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Full text of "Oration on the life and character of Gilbert Motier de Lafayette. Delivered at the request of both houses of the Congress of the United States, before them, in the House of representatives at Washington, on the 31st December, 1834."

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On the 3l8t Derembrr, 1834. 






Fellow-citizens of the Senate and 

House of Representatives of the United States : 

IF the authority by which I am now called to address 
you is one of the highest honors that could be conferred 
upon a citizen of this Union by his countrymen, I cannot 
dissemble to myself that it embraces at the same time one 
of the most arduous duties that could be imposed. Grateful 
to you for the honor conferred upon me by your invitation, 
a sentiment of irrepressible and fearful diffidence absorbs 
every faculty of my soul in contemplating the magnitude, 
the difficulties, and the delicacy of the task which it has 
been your pleasure to assign to me. 

I am to speak to the North American States and People, 
assembled here in the persons of their honored and confi- 
dential Lawgivers and Representatives. I am to speak lo 
them, by their own appointment, upon the Life and Character 
of a man whose life was, for nearly threescore years, the 
history of the civilized world— of a man, of whose character, 
to say that it is indissolubly identified with the Revolution 
of our Independence, is little more than to mark the features 
of his childhood— of a man, the personified image of self- 


DE LAFAYETTE, at the Castle of Chavaniac, in Au- 
vergne, and a few months after his birth his father fell in 
battle at Minden. 

Let us here observe the influence of political institutions 
over the destinies and the characters of men. George the 
Second was a German Prince ; he had been made King 
of the British Islands by the accident of his birth : that is 
to say, because his great grandmother had been the daugh- 
ter of James the First ; that great grandmother had been 
married to the King of Bohemia, and her youngest daughter 
had been married to the Elector of Hanover. George the 
Second's father was her son, and, when James the Second 
had been expelled from his throne and his country by the 
indignation of his People, revolted against his tyranny, and 
when his two daughters, who succeeded him, had died with- 
out issue, George the First, the son of the Electress of 
Hanover, became King of Great Britain, by the settlement 
of an Act of Parliament, blending together the principle of 
hereditary succession with that of Reformed Protestant 
Christianity, and the rites of the Church of England, 

The throne of France was occupied by virtue of the 
same principle of hereditary succession, differently modified, 
and blended with the Christianity of the Church of Rome. 
From this line of succession all females were inflexibly ex- 
cluded. Louis the Fifteenth, at the age of six years, had be- 
come the absolute Sovereign of France, because he was the 
great grandson of his immediate predecessor. He was of 
the third generation in descent from the preceding King, 
and, by the law of primogeniture engrafted upon that of lineal 
succession, did, by the death of his ancestor, forthwith sue- 


eeed, though in childhood, to an absolute throne, in prefer- 
ence to numerous descendants from that same ancestor, then 
in the full vigor of manhood. 

The first reflection that must occur to a rational being, in 
contemplating these two results of the principle of heredi- 
tary succession, as resorted to for designating the rulers of 
Nations, is, that two persons more unfit to occupy the thrones 
of Britain and of France, at the time of their respective 
accessions, could scarcely have been found upon the face of 
the Globe — George the Second, a foreigner, the son and 
grandson of foreigners, born beyond the seas, educated in 
uncongenial manners, ignorant of the Constitution, of the 
Laws, even of the Language of the People over whom he was 
to rule ; and Louis the Fifteenth, an infant, incapable of dis- 
cerning his right hand from his left. Yet, strange as it may 
sound to the ear of unsophisticated reason, the British Nation 
were wedded to the belief that this act of settlement, fixing 
their Crown upon the heads of this succession of total stran- 
gers, was the brightest and most glorious exemplification of 
their national freedom ; and not less strange, if aught in the 
imperfection of human reason could seem strange, was that 
deep conviction of the French People, at the same period, 
that their chief glory and happiness consisted in the vehe- 
mence of their affection for their King, because he was 
descended in an unbroken male line of genealogy from 
Saint Louis. 

One of the fruits of this line of hereditary succession, 
modified by sectarian principles of religion, was to make the 
peace and war, the happiness or misery of the People of the 
British Empire, dependent upon the fortunes of the Electo- 


rate of Hanover — the personal domain of their imported 
King. This was a result calamitous alike to the People of 
Hanover, of Britain, and of France ; for it was one of the 
two causes of that dreadful war then waging between them ; 
and as the cause, so was this a principal theatre of that dis- 
astrous war. It was at Minden, in the heart of the Electo- 
rate of Hanover, that the father of Lafayette fell, and left 
him an orphan, a victim to that war, and to the principle of 
hereditary succession from which it emanated. 

Thus, then, it was on the 6th of September, 1757, the 
day when Lafayette was born. The Kings of France and 
Britain were seated upon their thrones by virtue of the 
principle of hereditary succession, variously modified and 
blended with different forms of religious faith, and they were 
waging war against each other, and exhausting the blood 
and treasure of their People for causes in which neither of 
the Nations had any beneficial or lawful interest. 

In this war the father of Lafayette fell in the cause of 
his King, but not of his country. He was an officer of an 
invading army, the instrument of his Sovereign's wanton 
ambition and lust of conquest. The People of the Elec- 
torate of Hanover had done no wrong to him or to his 
country. When his son came to an age capable of under- 
standing the irreparable loss that he had suffered, and to 
reflect upon the causes of his father's fate, there was no 
drop of consolation mingled in the cup, from the considera- 
tion that he had died for his country. And when the 
youthful mind was awakened to meditation upon the rights 
of Mankind, the principles of Freedom, and theories of 
Government, it cannot be difficult to perceive, in the illus- 


ttations of his own family records, the source of that 
aversion to hereditary rule^ perhaps the most distinguishing 
feature of his political opinions, and to which he adhered 
through all the vicissitudes of his life. 

In the same war, and at the same time, George Wash- 
ington was armed, a loyal subject, in support of his King; 
but to him that was also the cause of his country. His 
commission was not in the army of George the Second, 
but issued under the authority of the Colony of Virginia, 
the province in which he received his birth. On the bor- 
ders of that province, the war in its most horrid forms was 
waged — not a war of mercy, and of courtesy, like that of 
the civilized embattled Legions of Europe ; but war to the 
knife — the war of Indian savages, terrible to man, but more 
terriblre to the tender sex, and most terrible to helpless 
infancy. In defence of his country against the ravages of 
such a war, Washington, in the dawn of manhood, had 
drawn his sword, as if Providence, with deliberate purpose, 
had sanctified for him the practice of war, all-detestable 
and unhallowed as it is, that he might, in a cause, virtuous 
and exalted by its motive and its end, be trained and fitted 
in a congenial school to march in aftertimes the leader of 
heroes in the war of his country's Independence. 

At the time of the birth of Lafayette, this war, which 
was to make him a fatherless child, and in which Washington 
was laying broad and deep, in the defence and protection 
of his native land, the foundations of his unrivalled renown, 
was but in its early stage. It was to continue five years 
longer, and was to close with the total extinguishment of 
the colonial dominion of France on the Continent of North 


America. The deep humiliation of Fiance, and the tri- 
umphant ascendancy on this Continent of her rival, were the 
first results of this great national conflict. The complete 
expulsion of France from North America seemed to the 
superficial vision of men to fix the British power over these 
extensive regions on foundations immovable as the ever- 
lasting hills. 

Let us pass in imagination a period of only twenty years, 
and alight upon the borders of the river Brandywine. 
Washington is Commander-in-chief of the armies of the 
United States of America — war is again raging in the 
heart of his native land — hostile armies of one and the 
same name, blood, and language, are arrayed for battle on 
the banks of the stream ; and Philadelphia, where the United 
States are in Congress assembled, and whence their Decree 
of Independence has gone forth, is the destined prize to the 
conflict of the day. Who is that tall, slender youth, of 
foreign air and aspect, scarcely emerged from the years of 
boyhood, and fresh from the walls of a college ; fighting, a 
volunteer, at the side of Washington, bleeding, unconsciously 
to himself, and rallying his men to secure the retreat of the 
scattered American ranks ? It is Gilbert Motier de 
Lafayette — the son of the victim of Minden ; and he is 
bleeding in the cause of North American Independence 
and of Freedom. 

We pause one moment to inquire what was this cause of 
North American Independence, and what were the motives 
and inducements to the youthful stranger to devote himself, 
his life, and fortune, to it. 


The People of the British Colonies in North America, 
after a controversy of ten years' duration with their Sove- 
reign beyond the seas, upon an attempt by him and his 
Parliament to tax them without their consent, had been 
constrained by necessity to declare themselves independent — 
to dissolve the tie of their allegiance to him^ — to renounce 
their right to his protection, and to assume their station 
among the independent civilized Nations of the Earth. 
This had been done with a deliberation and solemnity 
unexampled in the history of the world — done in the midst 
of a civil war, differing in character from any of those which 
for centuries before had desolated Europe. The war had 
arisen upon a question between the rights of the People and 
the powers of their Government. The discussions, in the 
progress of the controversy, had opened to the contemplations 
of men the first foundations of civil society and of government. 
The war of Independence began by litigation upon a petty 
stamp on paper, and a tax of three pence a pound upon tea ; 
but these broke up the fountains of the great deep, and the 
deluge ensued. Had the British Parliament the right to tax 
the People of the Colonies in another hemisphere, not repre- 
sented in the Imperial Legislature '^ They affirmed they had : 
the People of the Colonies insisted they had not. There 
were ten years of pleading before they came to an issue ; 
and all the legitimate sources of power, and all the primitive 
elements of freedom, were scrutinized, debated, analyzed, 
and elucidated, before the lighting of the torch of Ate, and 
her cry of havoc upon letting slip the dogs of war. 

When the day of conflict came, the issue of the contest 
was necessarily changed. The People of the Colonies had 


maintained the contest on the principle of resisting the inva- 
sion of chartered rights — first by argument and remonstrance, 
and, finally, by appeal to the sword. But with the war came 
the necessary exercise of sovereign powers. The Declara- 
tion of Independence justified itself as the only possible 
remedy for insufferable wrongs. It seated itself upon the 
first foundations of the law of nature, and the incontestable 
doctrine of human rights. There was no longer any question 
of the constitutional powers of the British Parliament, or of 
violated colonial charters. Thenceforward the American 
Nation supported its existence by war; and the British Nation, 
by war, was contending for conquest. As, between the two 
parties, the single question at issue was Independence — but 
in the confederate existence of the North American Union, 
Liberty — not only their own liberty, but the vital principle 
of liberty to the whole race of civilized man, was involved. 

It was at this stage of the conflict, and immediately after 
the Declaration of Independence, that it drew the attention, 
and called into action the moral sensibilities and the intellec- 
tual faculties of Lafayette, then in the nineteenth year of 
his age. 

The war was revolutionary. It began by the dissolution 
of the British Government in the Colonies ; the People of 
which were, by that operation, left without any Government 
whatever. They were then at one and the same time main- 
taining their independent national existence by war, and 
forming new social compacts for their own government thence- 
forward. The construction of civil society ; the extent and 
the limitations of organized power ; the establishment of a 
system of government combining the greatest enlargement 


of individual liberty with the most perfect preservation of 
public order, were the continual occupations of every mind. 
The consequences of this state of things to the history of 
mankind, and especially of Europe, were foreseen by none. 
Europe saw nothing but the war ; a People struggling for 
liberty, and against oppression ; and the People in every part 
of Europe sympathized with the People of the American 

With their Governments it was not so. The People of the 
American Colonies were insurgents ; all Governments abhor 
insurrection ; they were revolted colonists. The great mari- 
time Powers of Europe had Colonies of their own, to which 
the example of resistance against oppression might be con- 
tagious. The American Colonies were stigmatized in all 
the official acts of the British Government as rebels ; and 
rebellion to the governing part of mankind is as the sin of 
witchcraft. The Governments of Europe, therefore, were, 
at heart, on the side of the British Government in this war, 
and the People of Europe were on the side of the American 

Lafayette, by his position and condition in life, was one 
of those who, governed by the ordinary impulses which 
influence and control the conduct of men, would have sided 
in sentiment with the British or Royal cause. 

Lafayette was born a subject of the most absolute and 
most splendid Monarchy of Europe, and in the highest rank 
of her proud and chivalrous Nobility. He had been edu- 
cated at a college of the University of Paris, founded by the 
royal munificence of Louis the Fourteenth, or of his Minis- 
ter, Cardinal Richelieu. Left an orphan in early childhood, 


with the inheritance of a princely fortune, he had been 
married, at sixteen years of age, to a daughter of the house 
of Noailles, the most distinguished family of the Kingdom, 
scarcely deemed in public consideration inferior to that 
which wore the Crown. He came into active life, at the 
change from boy to man, a husband and a father, in the full 
enjoyment of every thing that avarice could covet, with a 
certain prospect before him of all that ambition could crave. 
Happy in his domestic affections, incapable, from the be- 
nignity of his nature, of envy, hatred, or revenge, a life of 
" ignoble ease and indolent repose" seemed to be that which 
nature and fortune had combined to prepare before him. 
To men of ordinary mould this condition would have led to 
a life of luxurious apathy and sensual indulgence. Such 
was the life into which, from the operation of the same 
causes, Louis the Fifteenth had sunk, with his household and 
Court, while Lafayette was rising to manhood, surrounded 
by the contamination of their example. Had his natural 
endowments been even of the higher and nobler order of 
such as adhere to virtue, even in the lap of prosperity, and 
in the bosom of temptation, he might have lived and died a 
pattern of the Nobility of France, to be classed, in after- 
times, with the Turennes and the Montausiers of the age 
of Louis the Fourteenth, or with the Villars or the La- 
moignons of the age immediately preceding his own. 

But as, in the firmament of Heaven that rolls over our 
heads, there is, among the stars of the first magnitude, one 
so pre-eminent in splendor, as, in the opinion of astronomers, 
to constitute a class by itself; so, in the fourteen hundred 
years of the French Monarchy, among the multitudes of 


great and mighty men which it has evolved, the name of 
Lafayette stands unrivalled in the solitude of glory. 

In entering upon the threshold of life, a career was to 
open before him. He had the option of the Court and the 
Camp. An office was tendered to him in the household of 
the King's brother, the Count de Provence, since succes- 
sively a royal Exile and a reinstated King., The servitude 
and inaction of a Court had no charms for him ; he preferred 
a commission in the army, and, at the time of the Declara- 
tion of Independence, was a captain of dragoons in garrison 
at Metz. 

There, at an entertainment given by his relative, the 
Marechal de Broglie, the Commandant of the place, to the 
Duke of Gloucester, brother to the British King, and then 
a transient traveller through that part of France, he learns, 
as an incident of intelligence received that morning by the 
English Prince from London, that the Congress of Rebels, 
at Philadelphia, had issued a Declaration of Independence. 
A conversation ensues upon the causes which have contri- 
buted to produce this event, and upon the consequences 
which may be expected to flow from it. The imagination 
of Lafayette has caught across the Atlantic tide the spark 
emitted from the Declaration of Independence ; his heart 
has kindled at the shock, and, before he slumbers upon his 
pillow, he has resolved to devote his life and fortune to the 

You have before you the cause and the man. The self- 
devotion of Lafayette was twofold. First, to the People, 
maintaining a bold and seemingly desperate struggle against 
oppression, and for national existence. Secondly, and 


chiefly, to the principles of their Declaration, which then 
first unfurled before his eyes the consecrated standard of 
human rights. To that standard, without an instant of 
hesitation, he repaired. Where it would lead him, it is 
scarcely probable that he himself then foresaw. It was 
then identical with the stars and stripes of the American 
Union, floating to the breeze from the Hall of Independence, 
at Philadelphia. Nor sordid avarice, nor vulgar ambition, 
could point his footsteps to the pathway leading to that ban- 
ner. To the love of ease or pleasure nothing could be 
more repulsive. Something may be allowed to the beatings 
of the youthful breast, which make ambition virtue, and 
something to the spirit of military adventure, imbibed from 
his profession, and which he felt in common with many 
others. France, Germany, Poland, furnished to the armies 
of this Union, in our revolutionary struggle, no inconsider- 
able number of officers of high rank and distinguished 
merit. The names of Pulaski and De Kalb are numbered 
among the martyrs of our freedom, and their ashes repose 
in our soil side by side with the canonized bones of Warren 
and of Montgomery. To the virtues of Lafayette, a more 
protracted career and happier earthly destinies were re- 
served. To the moral principle of political action, the 
sacrifices of no other man were comparable to his. Youth, 
health, fortune ; the favor of his King ; the enjoyment of 
ease and pleasure; even the choicest blessings of domestic 
felicity — he gave them all for toil and danger in a distant 
land, and an almost hopeless cause ; but it was the cause of 
justice, and of the rights of human kind. 



The resolve is firmly fixed, and it now remains to be 
carried into execution. On the 7th of December, 1776, 
Silas Deane, then a secret agent of the American Congress 
at Paris, stipulates with the Marquis de Lafayette that he 
shall receive a commission, to date from that day, of Major 
General in the Army of the United States; and the Marquis 
stipulates, in return, to depart when and how Mr. Deane 
shall judge proper, to serve the United States with all 
possible zeal, without pay or emolument, reserving to him- 
self only the liberty of returning to Europe if his family or 
his King should recall him. 

Neithez" his family nor his King were willing that he 
should depart ; nor had Mr. Deane the power, either to 
conclude this contract, or to furnish the means of his con- 
veyance to America. Difficulties rise up before him only to 
be dispersed, and obstacles thicken only to be surmounted. 
The day after the signature of the contract, Mr. Deane's 
agency was superseded by the arrival of Doctor Benjamin 
Franklin and Arthur Lee as his colleagues in commission; 
nor did they think themselves authorized to confirm his 
engagements. Lafayette is not to be discouraged. The 
Commissioners extenuate nothing of the unpromising con- 
dition of their cause. Mr. Deane avows his inability to 
furnish him with a passage to the United States. " The more 
" desperate the cause," says Lafayette, " the greater need 
" has it of my services ; and, if Mr. Deane has no vessel 
" for my passage, I shall purchase one myself, and will 
" traverse the Ocean with a selected company of my own." 

Other impediments arise. His design becomes known to 
the British Ambassador at the Court of Versailles, who 


remonstrates to the French Government against it. At> his 
instance, orders are issued for the detention of the vessel 
purchased by the Marquis, and fitted out at Bordeaux, and 
for the arrest of his person. To elude the first of these 
orders, the vessel is removed from Bordeaux to the neigh- 
boring port of Passage, within the dominion of Spain. The 
order for his own arrest is executed ; but, by stratagem and 
disguise, he escapes from the custody of those who have him 
in charge, and, before a second order can reach him, he is 
safe on the ocean wave, bound to the land of Independence 
and of Freedom. 

It had been necessary to clear out the vessel for an 
island of the West Indies ; but, once at sea, he avails him- 
self of his right as owner of the ship, and compels his 
captain to steer for the shores of emancipated North Ame- 
rica. He lands, with his companions, on the 25th of April, 
1777, in South Carolina, not far from Charleston, and finds 
a most cordial reception and hospitable welcome in the 
house of Major Huger. 

Every detail of this adventurous expedition, full of in- 
cidents, combining with the simplicity of historical truth all 
the interest of romance, is so well known, and so familiar 
to the memory of all who hear me, that I pass them over 
without further notice. 

From Charleston he proceeded to Philadelphia, where the 
Congress of the Revolution were in session, and where he 
offered his services in the cause. Here, again, he was met 
with difl&culties, which, to men of ordinary minds, would 
have been insurmountable. Mr. Deane's contracts were so 
numerous, and for offices of rank so high, that it was im- 


possible they should be ratified by the Congress. He had 
stipulated for the appointment of other Major Generals ; and, 
in the same contract with that of Lafayette, for eleven other 
officers, from the rank of Colonel to that of Lieutenant. To 
introduce these officers, strangers, scarcely one of whom 
could speak the language of the country, into the American 
army, to take rank and precedence over the native citizens 
whose ardent patriotism had pointed them to the standard 
of their country, could not, without great injustice, nor 
without exciting the most fatal dissensions, have been done ; 
and this answer was necessarily given as well to Lafayette 
as to the other officers who had accompanied him from 
Europe. His reply was an offer to serve as a volunteer, and 
without pay. Magnanimity, thus disinterested, could not be 
resisted, nor could the sense of it be worthily manifested 
by a mere acceptance of the offer. On the 31st of July, 
1777, therefore, the following resolution and preamble are 
recorded upon the Journals of Congress : 

" Whereas, the Marquis de Lafayette, out of his great 
" zeal to the cause of Liberty, in which the United States 
" are engaged, has left his family and connexions, and, at 
" his own expense, come over to off"er his service to the 
" United States, without pension, or particular allowance, 
" and is anxious to risk his life in our cause : 

" Resolved, That his service be accepted, and that, in 
" consideration of his zeal, illustrious family, and connex- 
" ions, he have the rank and commission of Major General 
" in the Army of the United States." 

He had the rank and commission, but no command as a 
Major General. With this, all personal ambition was gratified ; 


and whatever services he might perform, he could attain no 
higher rank in the American army. The discontents of 
officers aheady in the service, at being superseded in com- 
mand by a stripling foreigner, were disarmed ; nor was the 
prudence of Congress, perhaps, without its influence in 
withholding a command, which, but for a judgment pre- 
mature " beyond the slow advance of years," might have 
hazarded something of the sacred cause itself, by confidence 
too hastily bestowed. 

The day after the date of his commission, he was intro- 
duced to Washington, Commander-in-chief of the armies of 
the Confederation. It was the critical period of the campaign 
of 1777. The British army, commanded by Lord Howe, 
was advancing from the head of Elk, to which they had 
been transported by sea from New York, upon Philadelphia. 
Washington, by a counteracting movement, had been ap- 
proaching from his line of defence, in the Jerseys, towards 
the city, and arrived there on the 1st of August. It was a 
meeting of congenial souls. At the close of it, Washington 
gave the youthful stranger an invitation to make the head- 
quarters of the Commander-in-chief his home : that he should 
establish himself there at his own time, and consider himself 
at all times as one of his family. It was natural that, in 
giving this invitation, he should remark the contrast of the 
situation in which it would place him, with that of ease, and 
comfort, and luxurious enjoyment, which he had left, at the 
splendid Court of Louis the Sixteenth, and of his beautiful and 
accomplished, but ill-fated Queen, then at the very summit 
of all which constitutes the common estimate of felicity. 
How deep and solemn was this contrast ! No native Ame- 


rican had undergone the trial of the same alternative. None 
of them, save Lafayette, had brought the same tribute, of 
his life, his fortune, and his honor, to a cause of a country- 
foreign to his own. To Lafayette the soil of freedom was 
his country. His post of honor was the post of danger. 
His fireside was the field of battle. He accepted with joy 
the invitation of Washington, and repaired forthwith to the 
Camp. The bond of indissoluble friendship — the friendship 
of heroes, was sealed from the first hour of their meeting, 
to last throughout their lives, and to live in the memory of 
mankind forever. 

It was, perhaps, at the suggestion of the American Com- 
missioners in France, that this invitation was given by 
Washington. In a letter from them, of the 25th of May, 1777, 
to the Committee of Foreign Affairs, they announce that the 
Marquis had departed for the United States in a ship of 
his own, accompanied by some officers of distinction, in 
order to serve in our armies. They observe that he is 
exceedingly beloved, and that every body's good wishes 
attend him. They cannot but hope that he will meet with 
such a reception as will make the country and his expe- 
dition agreeable to him. They further say that those who 
censure it as imprudent in him, do nevertheless applaud 
his spirit ; and they are satisfied that civilities and respect 
shown to him will be serviceable to our cause in France, 
as pleasing not only to his powerful relations and to the 
Court, but to the whole French Nation. They finally 
add, that he had left a beautiful , young wife, and for her 
sake, particularly, they hoped that his bravery and ardent 
desire to distinguish himself would be a little restrained 


by the General's [Washington's] prudence, so as not to 
permit his being hazarded much, but upon some important 

The head-quarters of Washington, serving as a volunteer, 
with the rank and commission of a Major General without 
command, was precisely the station adapted to the deve- 
lopment of his character, to his own honor, and that of the 
army, and to the prudent management of the country's cause. 
To him it was at once a severe school of experience, and 
a rigorous test of merit. But it was not the place to re- 
strain him from exposure to danger. The time at which he 
joined the Camp was one of pre-eminent peril. The British 
Government, and the Commander-in-chief of the British 
forces, had imagined that the possession of Philadelphia, 
combined with that of the line along the Hudson river, 
from the Canadian frontier to the city of New York, would 
be fatal to the American cause. By the capture of Bur- 
goyne and his army, that portion of the project sustained a 
total defeat. The final issue of the war was indeed sealed 
with the capitulation of the 17th of October, 1777, at 
Saratoga — sealed, not with the subjugation, but with the 
independence of the North American Union. 

In the Southern campaign the British Commander was 
more successful. The fall of Philadelphia was the result 
of the battle of Brandywine, on the 11th of September, 
This was the first action in which Lafayette was engaged, 
and the first lesson of his practical military school was a 
lesson of misfortune. In the attempt to rally the Ameri- 
can troops in their retreat, he received a musket ball in the 
leg. He was scarcely conscious of the wound till made 


sensible of it by the loss- of blood, and even then ceased 
not his exertions in the field till he had secured and 
covered the retreat. 

This casualty confined him for some time to his bed at 
Philadelphia, and afterwards detained him some days at 
Bethlehem ; but within six weeks he rejoined the head- 
quarters of Washington, near Whitemarsh. He soon became 
anxious to obtain a command equal to his rank, and, in the 
short space of time that he had been with the Commander- 
in-chief, had so thoroughly obtained his confidence as to 
secure an earnest solicitation from him to Congress in his 
favor. In a letter to Congress of the 1st of November, 
1 777, he says : " The Marquis de Lafayette is extremely soli- 
" citous of having a command equal to his rank, I do not know 
" in what light Congress will view the matter, but it appears 
" to me, from a consideration of his illustrious and important 
" connexions, the attachment which he has manifested for 
" our cause, and the consequences which his return in dis- 
" gust might produce, that it will be advisable to gratify 
" him in his wishes ; and the more so, as several gentle- 
" men from France, who came over under some assurances, 
" have gone back disappointed in their expectations. His 
" conduct with respect to them stands in a favorable point 
" of view ; having interested himself to remove their un- 
" easiness, and urged the impropriety of their making any 
" unfavorable representations upon their arrival at home ; 
" and in all his letters he has placed our affairs in the best 
" situation he could. Besides, he is sensible, discreet in 
" his manners ; has made great proficiency in our language ; 
" and, from the disposition he discovered at the battle of 


" Brandywine, possesses a large share of bravery and 
" military ardor." 

Perhaps one of the highest encomiums ever pronounced 
of a man in public life, is that of a historian eminent for 
his profound acquaintance with mankind, who, in painting a 
great character by a single line, says that he was just equal 
to all the duties of the highest offices which he attained, 
and never above them. There are in some men qualities 
which dazzle and consume to little or no valuable purpose. 
They seldom belong to the great benefactors of mankind. 
They were not the qualities of Washington, or of Lafayette. 
The testimonial offered by the American Commander to 
his young friend, after a probation of several months, and 
after the severe test of the disastrous day of Brandyw'ine, 
was precisely adapted to the man in whose favor it was 
given, and to the object which it was to accomplish. What 
earnestness of purpose ! what sincerity of conviction ! what 
energetic simplicity of expression ! what thorough delineation 
of character ! The merits of Lafayette, to the eye of Wash- 
ington, are the candor and generosity of his disposition — the 
indefatigable industry of application which, in the course of 
a few months, has already given him the mastery of a foreign 
language — good sense — discretion of manners, an attribute 
not only unusual in early years, but doubly rare in alliance 
with that enthusiasm so signally marked by his self-devo- 
tion to the American cause ; and, to crown all the rest, the 
bravery and military ardor so brilliantly manifested at the 
Brandywine. Here is no random piaise ; no unmeaning 
panegyric. This cluster of qualities, all plain and simple, 
but so seldom found in union together, so generally incom- 


patible with one another, these are the properties eminently 
trustworthy, in the judgment of Washington ; and these are 
the properties which his discernment has found in Lafayette, 
and which urge him thus earnestly to advise the gratification 
of his wish by the assignment of a command equal to the 
rank which had been granted to his zeal and his illustrious 

The recommendation of Washington had its immediate 
effect; and on the 1st of December, 1777, it was resolved by 
Congress that he should be informed it was highly agreeable 
to Congress that the Marquis de Lafayette should be 
appointed to the command of a division in the Continental 

He received accordingly such an appointment ; and a 
plan was organized in Congress for a second invasion of 
Canada, at the head of which he was placed. This expe- 
dition, originally projected without consultation with the 
Commander-in-chief, might be connected with the tempo- 
rary dissatisfaction, in the community and in Congress, at 
the ill success of his endeavors to defend Philadelphia, 
which rival and unfriendly partisans were too ready to 
compare with the splendid termination, by the capture of 
Burgoyne and his army, of the Northern campaign, under 
the command of General Gates. To foreclose all suspicion 
of participation in these views, Lafayette proceeded to tlie 
Seat of Congress, and, accepting the important charge 
which it was proposed to assign to him, obtained at his 
particular request that he should be considered as an 
officer detached from the army of Washington, and to 
remain under his orders. He then repaired in person to 


Albany, to take command of the troops who were to assem- 
ble at that place, in order to cross the Lakes on the ice, 
and attack Montreal ; but, on arriving at Albany, he found 
none of the promised preparations in readiness — they were 
never effected. Congress some time after relinquished the 
design, and the Marquis was ordered to rejoin the army 
of Washington. 

In the succeeding month of May, his military talent was 
displayed by the masterly retreat effected in the presence of 
an overwhelming superiority of the enemy's force from the 
position at Barren Hill. 

He was soon after distinguished at the battle of Mon- 
mouth ; and in September, 1778, a resolution of Congress 
declared their high sense of his services, not only in the 
field, but in his exertions to conciliate and heal dissensions 
between the officers of the French fleet under the com- 
mand of Count d'Estaing and some of the native officers of 
our army. These dissensions had arisen in the first moments 
of co-operation in the service, and had threatened perni- 
cious consequences. 

In the month of April, 1776, the combined wisdom of 
the Count de Vergennes and of Mr. Turgot, the Prime 
Minister, and the Financier of Louis the Sixteenth, had 
brought him to the conclusion that the event the most desira- 
ble to France, with regard to the controversy between Great 
Britain and her American Colonies, was that the insur- 
rection should be suppressed. This judgment, evincing 
only the total absence of all moral considerations, in the 
estimate, by these eminent statesmen, of what was desira- 
ble to France, had undergone a great change by the close 


of the year 1777. The Declaration of Independence 
had changed the question between the parties. The 
popular feeling of France was all on the side of the 
Americans. The daring and romantic movement of La- 
fayette, in defiance of the Government itself, then highly 
favored by public opinion, was followed by universal ad- 
miration. The spontaneous spirit of the people gradually 
spread itself even over the rank corruption of the Court ; a 
suspicious and deceptive neutrality succeeded to an osten- 
sible exclusion of the Insurgents from the ports of France, 
till the capitulation of Burgoyne satisfied the casuists 
of international law at Versailles that the suppression of 
the insurrection was no longer the most desirable of events ; 
but that the United States were, de facto, sovereign and 
independent ; and that France might conclude a Treaty of 
Commerce with them, without giving just cause of offence 
to the step-mother country. On the 6th of February, 1778, a 
Treaty of Commerce between France and the United States 
was concluded, and with it, on the same day, a Treaty of 
eventual Defensive Alliance, to take effect only in the event 
of Great Britain's resenting, by war against France, the con- 
summation of the Commercial Treaty. The war immediately 
ensued, and in the summer of 1778 a French fleet under 
the command of Count d'Estaing was sent to co-operate 
with the forces of the United States for the maintenance 
of their Independence. 

By these events the position of the Marquis de Lafay- 
ette was essentially changed. It became necessary for him 
to reinstate himself in the good graces of his Sovereign, 
offended at his absenting himself from his country without 


permission, but gratified with the distinction which he had 
acquired by gallant deeds in a service now become that of 
France herself. At the close of the campaign of 1778, 
with the approbation of his friend and patron, the Com- 
mander-in-chief, he addressed a letter to the President of 
Congress, representing his then present circumstances w'ith 
the confidence of affection and gratitude, observing that the 
sentiments which bound him to his country could never be 
more properly spoken of than in the presence of men who 
had done so much for their own. " As long, continued he, 
" as I thought I could dispose of myself, I made it my pride 
" and pleasure to fight under American colors, in defence of 
" a cause which I dare more particularly call ours^ because I 
" had the good fortune of bleeding for her. Noio^ Sir, that 
" France is involved in a war, I am urged, by a sense of 
" my duty, as well as by the love of my country, to present 
" myself before the King, and know in what manner he judges 
" proper to employ my services. The most agreeable of all 
" will always be such as may enable me to serve the com- 
" mon cause among those whose friendship I had the happiness 
" to obtain, and whose fortune I had the honor to follow in 
" less smiling times. That reason, and others, which I leave 
" to the feelings of Congress, engage me to beg from them 
" the liberty of going home for the next Winter. 

" As long as there were any hopes of an active cam- 
" paign, I did not think of leaving the field ; now that I see 
" a very peaceable and undisturbed moment, I take this op- 
" portunity of waiting on Congress." 

In the remainder of the letter he solicited that, in the 
event of his request being granted, he might be considered 


as a soldier on furlough, heartily wishing to regain his colois 
and his esteemed and beloved fellow-soldiers. And he 
closes with a tender of any services which he might be 
enabled to render to the American cause in his own country. 

On the receipt of this letter, accompanied by one from 
General Washington, recommending to Congress, in terms 
most honorable to the Marquis, a compliance with his re- 
quest, that body immediately passed resolutions granting him 
an unlimited leave of absence, with permission to return 
to the United States at his own most convenient time ; 
that the President of Congress should write him a letter 
returning him the thanks of Congress for that disinterested 
zeal which had led him to America, and for the services 
he had rendered to the United States by the exertion of 
his courage and abilities on many signal occasions ; and that 
the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States at the 
Court of Versailles should be directed to cause an elegant 
sword, with proper devices, to be made, and presented to 
him in the name of the United States. These resolutions 
were communicated to him in a letter expressive of the 
sensibility congenial to them, from the President of Con- 
gress, Henry Laurens. 

He embarked in January, 1779, in the frigate Alliance, 
at Boston, and, on the succeeding 12th day of February, 
presented himself at Versailles. Twelve months had already 
elapsed since the conclusion of the Treaties of Commerce and 
of eventual Alliance between France and the United States. 
They had, during the greater part of that time, been deeply 
engaged in war with a common cause against Great Britain, 
and it was the cause in which Lafayette had been shedding 


his blood ; yet, instead of receiving him with open arms, as 
the pride and ornament of his country, a cold and hollow- 
hearted order Avas issued to him not to present himself at 
Court, but to consider himself under arrest, with permission 
to receive visits only from his relations. This ostensible 
mark of the Royal displeasure was to last eight days, 
and Lafayette manifested his sense of it only by a letter to 
the Count de Vergennes, inquiring whether the interdiction 
upon him to receive visits was to be considered as extend- 
ing to that of Doctor Franklin. The sentiment of universal 
admiration which had followed him at his first departure, 
greatly increased by his splendid career of service during 
the two years of his absence, indemnified him for the 
indignity of the courtly rebuke. 

He remained in France through the year 1779, and re- 
turned to the scene of action early in the ensuing year. 
He continued in the French service, and was appointed to 
command the King's own regiment of dragoons, stationed 
during the year in various parts of the Kingdom, and holding 
an incessant correspondence with the Ministers of Foreign 
Affairs and of War, urging the employment of a land and 
naval force in aid of the American cause. " The Marquis de 
" Lafayette," says Doctor Franklin, in a letter of the 4th of 
March, 1780, to the President of Congress, " who, during his 
'' residence in France, has been extremely zealous in sup- 
" porting our cause on all occasions, returns again to tight for 
" it. He is infinitely esteemed and beloved here, and I am 
"persuaded will do every thing in his power to merit a 
" continuance of the same affection from America." 


immediately after his arrival in the United States, it was^ 
on the 16th of May, 1780, resolved in Congress, that they 
considered his return to America to resume his command 
as a fresh proof of the disinterested zeal and persevering 
attachment which have justly recommended him to the public 
confidence and applause, and that they received with plea- 
sure a tender of the further services of so gallant and 
meritorious an officer. 

From this time until the termination of the campaign of 
1781, by the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and his army 
at Yorktown, his service was of incessant activity, always 
signalized by military talents unsurpassed, and by a spirit 
never to be subdued. At the time of the treason of Arnold, 
Lafayette was accompanying his Commander-in-chief to an 
important conference and consultation with the French Gene- 
ral, Rochambeau ; and then, as in every stage of the war, 
it seemed as if the position which he occupied, his per- 
sonal character, his individual relations with Washington, 
with the officers of both the allied armies, and with the 
armies themselves, had been specially ordered to promote 
and secure that harmony and mutual good understanding 
indispensable to the ultimate success of the common cause. 
His position, too, as a foreigner by birth, a European, a 
volunteer in the American service, and a person of high 
rank in his native country, pointed him out as peculiarly 
suited to the painful duty of deciding upon the character of 
the crime, and upon the fate of the British officer, the accom- 
plice and victim of the detested traitor, Arnold. 

In the early part of the campaign of 1781, when Corn- 
wallis, with an overwhelming force, was spreading ruin and 

devastation over the Southern portion of the Union, we find 
Lafayette, with means altogether inadequate, charged with 
the defence of the Territory of Virginia. Always equal to 
the emergencies in which circumstances placed him, his 
expedients for encountering and surmounting the obstacles 
which they cast in his way are invariably stamped with 
the peculiarities of his character. The troops placed under 
his command for the defence of Virginia, were chiefly taken 
from the Eastern regiments, unseasoned to the climate of 
the South, and prejudiced against it as unfavorable to the 
health of the natives of the more rigorous regions of the 
North. Desertions became frequent, till they threatened 
the very dissolution of the corps. Instead of resorting to 
military execution to retain his men, he appeals to the 
sympathies of honor. He states, in general orders, the great 
danger and difficulty of the enterprise upon which he is 
about to embark ; represents the only possibility by which 
it can promise success, the faithful adherence of the soldiers 
to their chief, and his confidence that they will not abandon 
him. He then adds, that if, however, any individual of 
the detachment was unwilling to follow him, a passport to 
return to his home should be forthwith granted him upon 
his application. It is to a cause like that of American In- 
dependence that resources like this are congenial. After 
these general orders, nothing more was heard of desertion. 
The very cripples of the army preferred paying for their 
own transportation, to follow the corps, rather than to ask 
for the dismission which had been made so easily accessible 
to all. 


But how shall the deficiencies of the military chest be 
supplied ? The want of money was heavily pressing upon 
the service in every direction. Where are the sinews of 
war ? How are the troops to march without shoes, linen, 
clothing of all descriptions, and other necessaries of life ? 
Lafayette has found them all. From the patriotic merchants 
of Baltimore he obtains, on the pledge of his own personal 
credit, a loan of money adequate to the purchase of the 
materials ; and from the fair hands of the daughters of the 
Monumental City, even then worthy to be so called, he 
obtains the toil of making up the needed garments. 

The details of the campaign, from its unpromising outset, 
when Cornwallis, the British Commander, exulted in anti- 
cipation that the boy could not escape him, till the storming 
of the twin redoubts, in emulation of gallantry by the valiant 
Frenchmen of Viomesnil, and the American fellow-soldiers 
of Lafayette, led by him to victory at Yorktown, must be 
left to the recording pen of History. Both redoubts were 
carried at the point of the sword, and Cornwallis, with 
averted face, surrendered his sword to Washington. 

This was the last vital struggle of the war, which, how- 
ever, lingered through another year rather of negotiation than 
of action. Immediately after the capitulation at Yorktown, 
Lafayette asked and obtained again a leave of absence to 
visit his family and his country, and with this closed his mili- 
tary service in the field during the Revolutionary War. But 
it was not for the individual enjoyment of his renown that 
he returned to France. The resolutions of Congress ac- 
companying that which gave him a discretionary leave of 
absence, while honorary in the highest degree to him, were 


equally marked by a grant of virtual credentials for nego- 
tiation, and by the trust of confidential powers, together 
with a letter of the warmest commendation of the gallant 
soldier to the favor of his King. The ensuing year was 
consumed in preparations for a formidable combined French 
and Spanish expedition against the British Islands in the 
West Indies, and particularly the Island of Jamaica ; thence 
to recoil upon New York, and to pursue the offensive war 
into Canada. The fleet destined for this gigantic under- 
taking was already assembled at Cadiz ; and Lafayette, ap- 
pointed the chief of the Staff, was there ready to embark 
upon this perilous adventure, when, on the 30th of Novem- 
ber, 1782, the preliminary treaties of peace were concluded 
between his Britannic Majesty on one part, and the Allied 
Powers of France, Spain, and the United States of America, 
on the other. The first intelligence of this event received 
by the American Congress was in the communication of a 
letter from Lafayette. 

The war of American Independence is closed. The 
People of the North American Confederation are in union, 
sovereign and independent. Lafayette, at twenty-five years 
of age, has lived the life of a patriarch, and illustrated the 
career of a hero. Had his days upon earth been then 
numbered, and had he then slept with his fathers, illustri- 
ous as for centuries their names had been, his name, to 
the end of time, would have transcended them all. For- 
tunate youth ! fortunate beyond even the measure of his 
companions in arms with whom he had achieved the glo- 
rious consummation of American Independence. His fame 
waa all his own ; not cheaply earned ; not ignobly won. 


His fellow-soldiers had been the champions and defenders 
of their country. They reaped for themselves, for their 
wives, their children, their posterity to the hitest time, the 
rewards of their dangers and their toils. Lafayette had 
watched, and labored, and fought, and bled, not for himself, 
not for his family, not, in the first instance, even for his 
country. In the legendary tales of Chivalry we read of 
tournaments at which a foreign and unknown Knight sud- 
denly presents himself, armed in complete steel, and, with 
the vizor down, enters the ring to contend with the assem- 
bled flower of Knighthood for the prize of honor, to be 
awarded by the hand of Beauty; bears it in triumph away, 
and disappears from the astonished multitude of competitors 
and spectators of the feats of arms. But where, in the rolls 
of History, where, in the fictions of Romance, where, but in 
the life of Lafayette, has been seen the noble stranger, fly- 
ing, with the tribute of his name, his rank, his affluence, his 
ease, his domestic bliss, his treasure, his blood, to the relief 
of a suffering and distant land, in the hour of her deepest 
calamity — baring his bosom to her foes ; and not at the 
transient pageantry of a tournament, but for a succession 
of five years sharing all the vicissitudes of her fortunes ; 
always eager to appear at the post of danger — tempering 
the glow of youthful ardor with the cold caution of a 
veteran commander ; bold and daring in action ; prompt in 
execution ; rapid in pursuit ; fertile in expedients ; unat- 
tainable in retreat ; often exposed, but never surprised, 
never disconcerted ; eluding his enemy when within his fan- 
cied grasp ; bearing upon him with irresistible sway when of 
force to cope with him in the conflict of arms r And what 


is this but the diary of Lafayette, from the day of his rally- 
ing the scattered fugitives of the Brandywine, insensible of 
the blood flowing from his wound, to the storming of the 
redoubt at Yorktown ? 

Henceforth, as a public man, Lafayette is to be con- 
sidered as a Frenchman, always active and ardent to serve 
the United States, but no longer in their service as an offi- 
cer. So transcendent had been his merits in the common 
cause, that, to reward them, the rule of progressive advance- 
ment in the armies of France was set aside for him. He 
received from the Minister of War a notification that from 
the day of his retirement from the service of the United 
States as a Major General, at the close of the war, he 
should hold the same rank in the armies of France, to date 
from the day of the capitulation of Lord Cornwallis. 

Henceforth he is a Frenchman, destined to perform in 
the history of his country a part, as peculiarly his own, and 
not less glorious than that which he had performed in the 
war of Independence. A short period of profound peace 
followed the great triumph of Freedom. The desire of 
Lafayette once more to see the land of his adoption and 
the associates of his glory, the fellow-soldiers who had 
become to him as brothers, and the friend and patron of his 
youth, who had become to him as a father ; sympathizing 
with their desire once more to see him — to see in their 
prosperity him who had first come to them in their 
affliction, induced him, in the year 1784, to pay a visit to 
the United States. 

On the 4th of August, of that year, he landed at New 
York, and, in the space of five months from that time. 


visited his venerable friend at Mount Vernon, where he 
was then living in retirement, and traversed ten States of the 
Union, receiving every where, from their Legislative Assem- 
blies, from the Municipal Bodies of the cities and towns 
through which he passed, from the officers of the army, his 
late associates, now restored to the virtues and occupations 
of private life, and even from the recent emigrants from 
Ireland, who had come to adopt for their country the 
self-emancipated land, addresses of gratulation and of 
joy, the effusions of hearts grateful in the enjoyment of 
the blessings for the possession of which they had been 
so largely indebted to his exertions — and, finally, from 
the United States of America in Congress assembled at 

On the 9th of December it was resolved by that body 
that a committee, to consist of one member from each 
State, should be appointed to receive, and in the name of 
Congress take leave of the Marquis. That they should be 
instructed to assure him that Congress continued to entertain 
the same high sense of his abilities and zeal to promote the 
welfare of America, both here and in Europe, which they 
had frequently expressed and manifested on former occa- 
sions, and which the recent marks of his attention to their 
commercial and other interests had perfectly confirmed. 
" That, as his uniform and unceasing attachment to this 
" country has resembled that of a patriotic citizen, the United 
" States regard him with particular affection, and will not 
" cease to feel an interest in whatever may concern his 
" honor and prosperity, and that their best and kindest 
" wishes will always attend him." 

And it was further resolved, that a letter be written to 
his Most Christian Majesty, to be signed by his Excellency 
the President of Congress, expressive of the high sense 
which the United States in Congress assembled entertain of 
the zeal, talents, and meritorious services of the Marquis 
de Lafayette, and recommending him to the favor and 
patronage of his Majesty. 

The first of these resolutions was, on the next day, 
carried into execution. At a solemn interview with the 
Committee of Congress, received in their Hall, and addressed 
by the Chairman of their Committee, John Jay, the purport 
of these resolutions Avas communicated to him. He re- 
plied in terms of fervent sensibility for the kindness mani- 
fested personally to himself; and, with allusions to the 
situation, the prospects, and the duties of the People of 
this country, he pointed out the great interests which he 
believed it indispensable to their welfare that they should 
cultivate and cherish. In the following memorable sen- 
tences the ultimate objects of his solicitude are disclosed 
in a tone deeply solemn and impressive : 

" May this immense Temple of Freedom," said he, "ever 
"stand, a lesson to oppressors, an example to the op- 
" pressed, a sanctuary for the rights of mankind ! and may 
" these happy United States attain that complete splendor 
" and prosperity which will illustrate the blessings of their 
" Government, and for ages to come rejoice the departed 
" souls of its founders." 

Fellow-citizens! Ages have passed away since these 
words were spoken ; but ages are the years of the ex- 
istence of Nations. The founders of this immense Temple 


of Freedom have all departed, save here and there a soli- 
tary exception, even while I speak, at the point of taking 
wing. The prayer of Lafayette is not yet consummated. 
Ages upon ages are still to pass away before it can have 
its full accomplishment ; and, for its full accomplishment, 
his spirit, hovering over our heads, in more than echoes 
talks around these walls. It repeats the prayer which from 
his lips fifty years ago was at once a parting blessing and 
a prophecy ; for, were it possible for the whole human 
race, now breathing the breath of life, to be assembled 
within this Hall, your Orator v»'ould, in your iiame and in 
that of your constituents, appeal to them to testify for your 
fathers of the last generation, that, so far as has depended 
upon them, the blessing of Lafayette has been prophecy. 
Yes ! this immense Temple of Freedom still stands, a lesson 
to oppressors, an example to the oppressed, and a sanc- 
tuary for the rights of mankind. Yes ! with the smiles of 
a benignant Providence, the splendor and prosperity of 
these happy United States have illustrated the blessings of 
their Government, and, we may humbly hope, have re- 
joiced the departed souls of its founders. For the past 
your fathers and you have been responsible. The charge 
of the future devolves upon you and upon your children. 
The vestal fire of Freedom is in your custody. May the 
souls of its departed founders never be called to witness 
its extinction by neglect, nor a soil upon the purity of its 
keepers ! 

With this valedictory, Lafayette took, as he and those 
who heard him then believed, a final leave of the People of 


the United States. He returned to France, and arrived at 
Paris on the 25th of January, 1785. 

He continued to take a deep interest in the concerns of 
the United States, and exerted his influence with the French 
Government to obtain reductions of duties favorable to their 
commerce and fisheries. In the summer of 1786, he visited 
several of the German Courts, and attended the last great 
review by Frederick the Second of his veteran army — a 
review unusually splendid, and specially remarkable by the 
attendance of many of the most distinguished military com- 
manders of Europe. In the same year the Legislature of 
Virginia manifested the continued recollection of his ser- 
vices rendered to the People of that Commonwealth, by a 
complimentary token of gratitude not less honorable than it 
was unusual. They resolved that two busts of Lafayette, 
to be executed by the celebrated sculptor, Houdon, should 
be procured at their expense ; that one of them should be 
placed in their own Legislative Hall, and the other present- 
ed, in their name, to the municipal authorities of the city of 
Paris. It was accordingly presented by Mr. Jefferson, then 
Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States in France, and, 
by the permission of Louis the Sixteenth, was accepted, 
and, with appropriate solemnity, placed in one of the Halls 
of the Hotel de Ville of the Metropolis of France. 

We have gone through one stage of the life of La- 
fayette : we are now to see him acting upon another 
theatre — in a cause still essentially the same, but in the 
application of its principles to his own country. 

The immediately originating question which occasioned 
the French Revolutipn was the same with that from which 


the American Revolution had sprung — Taxation of the Peo- 
ple without their consent. For nearly two centuries the 
Kings of France had been accustomed to levy taxes upon 
the People by Royal Ordinances. But it was necessary that 
these Ordinances should be registered in the Parliaments or 
Judicial Tribunals ; and these Parliaments claimed the right 
of remonstrating against them, and sometimes refused the 
registry of them itself. The members of the Parliaments 
held their offices by purchase, but were appointed by the 
King, and were subject to banishment or imprisonment, at 
his pleasure. Louis the Fifteenth, towards the close of his 
reign, had abolished the Parliaments, but they had been 
restored at the accession of his successor. 

The finances of the Kingdom were in extreme disorder. 
The Minister, or Comptroller General, De Calonne, after 
attempting various projects for obtaining the supplies, the 
amount and need of which he was with lavish hand daily 
increasing, bethought himself, at last, of calling for the 
counsel of others. He prevailed upon the King to convoke, 
not the States General, but an Assembly of Notables. There 
was something ridiculous in the very name by which this 
meeting was called, but it consisted of a selection from all 
the Grandees and Dignitaries of the Kingdom. The two 
brothers of the King — all the Princes of the blood. Arch- 
bishops and Bishops, Dukes and Peers — the Chancellor and 
Presiding Members of the Parliaments ; distinguished Mem- 
bers of the Noblesse, and the Mayors and Chief Magistrates 
of a few of the principal cities of the Kingdom, constituted 
this Assembly. It was a representation of every interest but 
that of the People. They were appointed by the King — 


were members of the highest Aristocracy, and were assem- 
bled with the design tliat their deliberations should be 
confined exclusively to the subjects submitted to their 
consideration by the Minister. These were certain plans 
devised by him for replenishing the insolvent Treasury, 
by assessments upon the privileged classes, the very 
Princes, Nobles, Ecclesiastics, and Magistrates exclusively 
represented in the Assembly itself. 

Of this meeting the Marquis de Lafayette was a mem- 
ber. It was held in February, 1787, and terminated in the 
overthrow and banishment of the Minister by whom it had 
been convened. In the fiscal concerns which absorbed the 
care and attention of others, Lafayette took comparatively 
little interest. His views were more comprehensive. 

The Assembly consisted of one hundred and thirty-seven 
persons, and divided itself into seven sections or bureaux, 
each presided by a Prince of the blood. Lafayette was 
allotted to the division under the Presidency of the Count 
d'Artois, the younger brother of the King, and since known 
as Charles the Tenth. The propositions made by La- 
fayette were — 

1. The suppression of Lettres de Cachet, and the aboli- 
tion of all arbitrary imprisonment. 

2. The establishment of religious toleration, and the 
restoration of the Protestants to their civil rights. 

3. The convocation of a National Assembly, representing 
the People of France — Personal Liberty — Religious Liberty 
— and a Representative Assembly of the People. These 
were his demands. 


Tlie first and second of them produced, perhaps, at the 
time, no deep impression upon the Assembly, nor upon the 
public. Arbitrary imprisonment, and the religious persecu- 
tion of the Protestants had become universally odious. They 
were worn-out instruments, even in the hands of those who 
wielded them. There was none to defend them. 

But the demand for a National Assembly startled the 
Prince at the head of the Bureau. What ! said the Count 
d'Artois, do you ask for the States General ? Yes, Sir, was 
the answer of Lafayette, and for something yet better. You 
desire, then, replied the Prince, that I should take in writing, 
and report to the King, that the motion to convoke the States 
General has been made by the Marquis de Lafayette ? 
" Yes, Sir ;" and the name of Lafayette was accordingly 
reported to the King. 

The Assembly of Notables was dissolved — De Calonne 
was displaced and banished, and his successor undertook to 
raise the needed funds, by the authority of Royal Edicts. 
The war of litigation with the Parliaments recommenced, 
which terminated only with a positive promise that the States 
General should be convoked. 

From that time a total revolution of Government in 
France was in progress. It has been a solemn, a sublime, 
often a most painful, and yet, in the contemplation of great 
results, a refreshing and cheering contemplation. I cannot 
follow it in its overwhelming multitude of details, even as 
connected with the Life and Character of Lafayette. A 
second Assembly of Notables succeeded the first; and then an 
Assembly of the States General, first to deliberate in sepa- 
rate orders of Clergy, Nobility, and Third Estate ; but, finally, 


constituting itself a National Assembly, and forming a Con- 
stitution of limited Monarchy, with an hereditary Royal 
Executive, and a Legislature in a single Assembly repre- 
senting the People. 

Lafayette was a member of the States General first 
assembled. Their meeting was signalized by a struggle 
between the several orders of which they were composed, 
which resulted in breaking them all down into one National 

The convocation of the States General had, in one re- 
spect, operated, in the progress of the French Revolution, 
like the Declaration of Independence in that of North Ame- 
rica. It had changed the question in controversy. It was, 
on the part of the King of France, a concession that he had 
no lawful power to tax the People without their consent. 
The States General, therefore, met with this admission 
already conceded by the King. In the American conflict 
the British Government never yielded the concession. 
They undertook to maintain their supposed right of arbitrary 
taxation by force ; and then the People of the Colonies 
renounced all community of Government, not only with the 
King and Parliament, but with the British Nation. They 
reconstructed the fabric of Government for themselves, and 
held the People of Britain as foreigners — friends in peace — 
enemies in war. 

The concession by Louis the Sixteenth, implied in the 
convocation of the States General, was a virtual surrender 
of absolute power — an acknowledgment that, as exercised 
by himself and his predecessors, it had been usurped. It 
was, in substance, an abdication of his Crown. There was 


no power which he exercised as King of France, the 
lawfulness of which was not contestable on the same prin- 
ciple which denied him the right of taxation. When the 
Assembly of the States General met at Versailles, in May, 
1789, there was but a shadow of the Royal authority left. 
They felt that the power of the Nation was in their hands, 
and they were not sparing in the use of it. The Repre- 
sentatives of the Third Estate, double in numbers to those 
of the Clergy and the Nobility, constituted themselves a 
National Assembly, and, as a signal for the demolition of all 
privileged orders, refused to deliberate in separate Cham- 
bers, and thus compelled the Representatives of the Clergy 
and Nobility to merge their separate existence in the 
general mass of the popular Representation. 

Thus the edifice of society was to be reconstructed in 
France as it had been in America. The King made a feeble 
attempt to overawe the Assembly, by calling regiments of 
troops to Versailles, and surrounding with them the hall of 
their meeting. But there was defection in the army itself, 
and even the person of the King soon ceased to be at his 
own disposal. On the 11th of July, 1789, in the midst 
of the fermentation which had succeeded the fall of the 
Monarchy, and while the Assembly was surrounded by 
armed soldiers, Lafayette presented to them his Decla- 
ration of Rights — the first declaration of human rights ever 
proclaimed in Europe. It was adopted, and became the 
basis of that which the Assembly promulgated with their 

It was in this hemisphere, and in our own country, that 
all its principles had been imbibed. At the very moment 
when the Declaration was presented, the convulsive struggle 


between the expiring Monarchy and the new-born but por- 
tentous anarchy of the Parisian populace was taking place. 
The Royal Palace and the Hall of the Assembly were sur- 
rounded with troops, and insurrection was kindling at Paris. 
In the midst of the popular commotion, a deputation of sixty 
members, with Lafayette at their head, was sent from the 
Assembly to tranquillize the People of Paris, and that incident 
was the occasion of the institution of the National Guard 
throughout the Realm, and of the appointment, with the 
approbation of the King, of Lafayette as their General 

This event, without vacating his seat in the National 
Assembly, connected him at once with the military and the 
popular movement of the Revolution. The National Guard 
was the armed militia of the whole Kingdom, embodied for 
the preservation of order, and the protection of persons and 
property, as well as for the establishment of the liberties of 
the People. In his double capacity of Commander General 
of this force, and of a Representative in the Constituent 
Assembly, his career, for a period of more than three years, 
was beset with the most imminent dangers, and with difficul- 
ties beyond all human power to surmount. 

The ancient Monarchy of France had crumbled into ruins. 
A National Assembly, formed by an irregular Representation 
of Clergy, Nobles, and Third Estate, after melting at the lire 
of a revolution into one body, had transformed itself into a 
Constituent Assembly representing the People, had assumed 
the exercise of all the powers of Government, extorted from 
the hands of the King, and undertaken to form a Constitution 
for the French Nation, founded at once upon the theory of 
human rights, and upon the preservation of a royal hereditary 


Crown upon the head of Louis the Sixteenth. Lafayette sin- 
cerely believed that such a system would not be absolutely 
incompatible with the nature of things. An hereditary Mon- 
archy, surrounded by popular institutions, presented itself to 
his imagination as a practicable form of government ; nor is 
it certain that even to his last days he ever abandoned this 
persuasion. The element of hereditary Monarchy in this 
Constitution was indeed not congenial with it. The proto- 
type from which the whole fabric had been drawn, had no 
such element in its composition. A feeling of generosity, of 
compassion, of commiseration with the unfortunate Prince 
then upon the throne, who had been his Sovereign, and for 
his ill-fated family, mingled itself, perhaps unconsciously to 
himself, with his well-reasoned faith in the abstract principles 
of a republican creed. The total abolition of the monarchical 
feature undoubtedly belonged to his theory, but the family 
of Bourbon had still a strong hold on the affections of the 
French People ; History had not made up a record favorable 
to the establishment of elective Kings — a strong Executive 
Head was absolutely necessary to curb the impetuosities of the 
People of France ; and the same doctrine which played upon 
the fancy, and crept upon the kind-hearted benevolence of 
Lafayette, was adopted by a large majority of the National 
Assembly, sanctioned by the suffrages of its most intelligent, 
virtuous, and patriotic members, and was finally embodied in 
that royal democracy, the result of their labors, sent forth to 
the world, under the guaranty of numberless oaths, as the 
Constitution of France for all aftertime. 

But, during the same period, after the first meeting of the 
States General, and while they were in actual conflict with 


the expiring energies of the Crown, and with the exclusive 
privileges of the Clergy and Nobility, another portentous 
power had arisen, and entered with terrific activity into the 
controversies of the time. This was the power of popular 
insurrection, organized by voluntary associations of clubs, 
and impelled to action by the municipal authorities of the 
city of Paris. 

The first movements of the People in the state of insur- 
rection took place on the 12th of July, 1789, and issued in 
the destruction of the Bastille, and in the murder of its 
Governor, and of several other persons, hung up at lamp- 
posts, or torn to pieces by the frenzied multitude, without 
form of trial, and without shadow of guilt. 

The Bastille had long been odious as the place of confine- 
ment of persons arrested by arbitrary orders for offences 
against the Government, and its destruction was hailed by 
most of the friends of Liberty throughout the world as an 
act of patriotism and magnanimity on the part of the People. 
The brutal ferocity of the murders was overlooked or pal- 
liated in the glory of the achievement of razing to its foun- 
dations the execrated Citadel of Despotism. But, as the 
summary justice of insurrection can manifest itself only by 
destruction, the example once set became a precedent for a 
series of years for scenes so atrocious, and for butcheries so 
merciless and horrible, that memory revolts at the task of 
recalling them to the mind. 

It would be impossible, within the compass of this Dis- 
course, to follow the details of the French Revolution to the 
final dethronement of Louis the Sixteenth, and the extinction 
of the Constitutional Monarchy of France, on the 10th of Au- 


gust, 1792. During that period, the two distinct Powers were 
in continual operation — sometimes in concert with each other, 
sometimes at irreconcilable opposition. Of these Powers, 
one was the People of France, represented by the Parisian 
populace in insurrection ; the other was the People of France, 
represented successively by the Constituent Assembly, which 
formed the Constitution of 1791, and by the Legislative 
Assembly, elected to carry it into execution. 

The movements of the insurgent Power were occasionally 
convulsive and cruel, without mitigation or mercy. Guided 
by secret springs ; prompted by vindictive and sanguinary 
ambition, directed by hands unseen to objects of individual 
aggrandizement, its agency fell like the thunderbolt, and 
swept like the whirlwind. 

The proceedings of the Assemblies were deliberative and 
intellectual. They began by grasping at the whole power of 
the Monarchy, and they finished by sinking under the dic- 
tation of the Parisian populace. The Constituent Assembly 
numbered among its members many individuals of great 
ability, and of pure principles, but they were overawed and 
domineered by that other Representation of the People of 
France, which, through the instrumentality of the Jacobin 
Club, and the Municipality of Paris, disconcerted the wisdom 
of the wise, and scattered to the winds the counsels of the 
prudent. It was impossible that, under the perturbations of 
such a controlling power, a Constitution suited to the charac- 
ter and circumstances of the Nation should be formed. 

Through the whole of this period, the part performed by 
Lafayette was without parallel in history. The annals of the 
human race exhibit no other instance of a position compara- 


ble for its unintcimitted perils, its deep responsibilities, and 
its providential issues, with that which he occupied as Com- 
mander General of the National Guard, and as a leading 
member of the Constituent Assembly. In the numerous 
insurrections of the People, he saved the lives of multitudes 
devoted as victims, and always at the most imminent hazard 
of his own. On the 5th and 6th of October, 1789, he saved the 
lives of Louis the Sixteenth, and of his Queen. He escaped, 
time after time, the daggers sharpened by princely conspiracy 
on one hand, and by popular frenzy on the other. He wit- 
nessed, too, without being able to prevent it, the butchery of 
Foulon before his eyes, and the reeking heart of Berthier, 
torn from his lifeless trunk, was held up in exulting triumph 
before him. On this occasion, and on another, he threw up 
his commission as Commander of the National Guards ; but 
who could have succeeded him, even with equal power to 
restrain these volcanic excesses ? At the earnest solicitation 
of those who well knew that his place could never be sup- 
plied, he resumed and continued in the command until the 
solemn proclamation of the Constitution, upon which he 
definitively laid it down, and retired to private life upon his 
estate in Auvergne. 

As a member of the Constituent Assembly, it is not in 
the detailed organization of the Government which they 
prepared, that his spirit and co-operation is to be traced. 
It is in the principles Avhich he proposed and infused into 
the system. As, at the first Assembly of Notables, his voice 
had been raised for the abolition of arbitrary imprisonment, 
for the extinction of religious intolerance, and for the repre- 
sentation of the People, so, in the National Assembly, 


besides the Declaration of Rights, which formed the basis of 
the Constitution itself, he made or supported the motions for 
the establishment of trial by jury, for the gradual emancipa- 
tion of slaves, for the freedom of the Press, for the abolition 
of all titles of nobility, and lor the declaration of equality 
of all the citizens, and the suppression of all the privileged 
orders, without exception of the Princes of the royal family. 
Thus, while, as a legislator, he was spreading the principles 
of universal liberty over the whole surface of the State, as 
Commander-in-chief of the armed force of the Nation, he was 
controlling, repressing, and mitigating, as far as it could be 
effected by human ])ower, the excesses of the People. 

The Constitution was at length proclaimed, and the Con- 
stituent National Assembly was dissolved. In advance of 
this event, the sublime spectacle of the Federation was 
exhibited on the 14th of July, 1790, the first anniversary 
of the destruction of the Bastille. There was an ingenious 
and fanciful association of ideas in the selection of that day. 
The Bastille was a State Prison, a massive structure, which 
had stood four hundred years, every stone of which was 
saturated with sighs and tears, and echoed the groans of four 
centuries of oppression. It was the very type and emblem of 
the despotism which had so long weighed upon France. 
Demolished from its summit to its foundation at the first 
shout of Freedom from the People, what day could be more 
appropriate than its anniversary for the day of solemn 
consecration of the new fabric of Government, founded 
upon the rights of man? 

I shall not describe the magnificent and melancholy pa- 
geant of that day. It has been done by abler hands, and 


in a style which could only be weakened and diluted by 
repetition.* The religious solemnity of the mass was per- 
formed by a Prelate, then eminent among the members of 
the Assembly and the dignitaries of the land ; still eminent, 
after surviving the whole circle of subsequent revolutions. 
No longer a father of the Church, but among the most 
distinguished laymen and most celebrated statesmen of 
France, his was the voice to invoke the blessing of Hea- 
ven upon this new Constitution for his liberated country; 
and he and Louis the Sixteenth, and Lafayette, and thirty 
thousand delegates from all the Confederated National 
Guards of the Kingdom, in the presence of Almighty God, 
and of five hundred thousand of their countrymen, took the 
oath of fidelity to the Nation, to the Constitution, and 
all, save the Monarch himself, to the King. His corre- 
sponding oath was, of fidelity to discharge the duties of his 
high office, and to the People. 

Alas ! and was it all false and hollow ? had these oaths 
no more substance than the breath that ushered them to the 
winds ? It is impossible to look back upon the short and 
turbulent existence of this royal democracy, to mark the 
frequent paroxysms of popular frenzy by which it was 
assailed, and the catastrophe by which it perished, and to 
believe that the vows of all who swore to support it w^ere 
sincere. But, as well might the sculptor of a block of marble, 
after exhausting his genius and his art in giving it a beautiful 
human form, call God to witness that it shall perform all the 
functions of animal life, as the Constituent Assembly of 
France could pledge the faith of its members that their 

* In the Address to the young men of Boston, by Edward Everett. 


royal democracy should work as a permanent organized 
form of government. The Declaration of Rights contained 
all the principles essential to freedom. The frame of 
government was radically and irreparably defective. The 
hereditary Royal Executive was itself an inconsistency with 
the Declaration of Rights. The Legislative pow^r, all 
concentrated in a single Assembly, was an incongruity still 
more glaring. These were both departures from the system 
of organization which Lafayette had witnessed in the 
American Constitutions : neither of them was approved by 
Lafayette. In deference to the prevailing opinions and 
prejudices of the times, he acquiesced in them, and he 
was destined to incur the most imminent hazards of his life, 
and to make the sacrifice of all that gives value to life itself, 
in faithful adherence to that Constitution which he had 
sworn to support. 

Shortly after his resignation, as Commander General 
of the National Guards, the friends of liberty and order 
presented him as a candidate for election as Mayor of Paris ; 
but he had a competitor in the person of Pethion, more 
suited to the party, pursuing with inexorable rancor the 
abolition of the Monarchy and the destruction of the King ; 
and, what may seem scarcely credible, the remnant of the 
party which still adhered to the King, the King himself, 
and, above all, the Queen, favored the election of the 
Jacobin Pethion, in preference to that of Lafayette. 
They were, too fatally for themselves, successful. 

From the first meeting of the Legislative Assembly, un- 
der the Constitution of 1791, the destruction of the King and 
of the Monarchy, and the establishment of a Republic, by 


means of the popular passions and of popular violence, were 
the deliberate purposes of its leading members. The spirit 
with which the Revolution had been pursued, from the time 
of the destruction of the Bastille, had caused the emigration of 
gieat numbers of the Nobility and Clergy ; and, among them, 
of the two brothers of Louis the Sixteenth, and of several 
other Princes of his blood. They had applied to all the other 
great Monarchies of Europe for assistance to uphold or 
restore the crumbling Monarchy of France. The French 
Reformers themselves, in the heat of their political fanaticism, 
avowed, without disguise, the design to revolutionize all 
Europe, and had emissaries in every country, openly or 
secretly preaching the doctrine of insurrection against all 
established Governments. Louis the Sixteenth, and his 
Queen, an Austrian Princess, sister to the Emperor Leopold, 
were in secret negotiation with the Austrian Government 
for the rescue of the King and royal family of France from 
the dangers with which they were so incessantly beset. In 
the Electorate of Treves, a part of tlie Germanic Empire, the 
emigrants from France were assembling, with indications of 
a design to enter France in hostile arraj', to effect a counter- 
revolution ; and the brothers of the King, assuming a position 
at Coblentz, on the borders of their country, were holding 
councils, the object of which was to march in arms to Paris, 
to release the King from captivity, and to restore the ancient 
Monarchy to the dominion of absolute Power. 

The King, who, even before his forced acceptance of the 
Constitution of 1791, had made an unsuccessful attempt to 
escape from his palace prison, was, in April, 1792, reduced 
to the humiliating necessity of declaring war against the very 


Sovereigns who were arming their Nations to rescue him from 
his revolted subjects. Three armies, each of fifty thousand 
men, were levied to meet the emergencies of this war, and 
were placed under the command of Luckner, Eochambeau, 
and Lafayette. As he passed through Paris to go and take 
the command of his army, he appeared before the Legislative 
Assembly, the President of which, in addressing him, said 
that the Nation would oppose to their eneinies the Consti- 
tution and Lafayette. 

But the enemies to the Constitution were within the walls. 
At this distance of time, when most of the men, and many 
of the passions of those days, have passed away, when the 
French Revolution, and its results, should be regarded with 
the searching eye of philosophical speculation, as lessons of 
experience to after ages, may it even now be permitted to 
remark how much the virtues and the crimes of men, in 
times of political convulsion, are modified and characterized 
by the circumstances in which they are placed. The great 
actors of the tremendous scenes of revolution of those times 
were men educated in schools of high civilization, and in the 
humane and benevolent precepts of the Christian religion. 
A small portion of them were vicious and depraved ; but 
the great majority were wound up to madness by that war 
of conflicting interests and absorbing passions, enkindled by 
a great convulsion of the social system. It has been «aid, 
by a great master of human nature — 

" In peace, there's nothing so becomes a man 
'• As modest stillness and humility ; 
•' But when the blast of war blows in your ears, 
•' Then imitate the action of the tig'er." 


Too faithfully did the People of France, and the leaders of 
their factions, in that war of all the political elements, obey 
that injunction. Who, that lived in that day, can remember? 
who, since born, can read, or bear to be told, the horrors of 
the 20th of June, the 10th of August, the 2d and 3d of 
September, 1792, of the 31st of May, 1793, and of a mul- 
titude of others, during which, in dreadful succession, the 
murderers of one day were the victims of the next, until 
that, when the insurgent populace themselves were shot 
down by thousands, in the very streets of Paris, by the 
military legions of the Convention, and the rising fortune 
and genius of Napoleon Bonaparte ? Who can remember, 
or read, or hear, of all this, without shuddering at the sight 
of man, his fellow-creature, in the drunkenness of political 
frenzy, degrading himself beneath the condition of the canni- 
bal savage ? beneath even the condition of the wild beast of 
the desert ? and who, but with a feeling of deep mortification, 
can reflect, that the rational and immortal being, to the race 
of which he himself belongs, should, even in his most palmy 
state of intellectual cultivation, be capable of this self-trans- 
formation to brutality ? 

In this dissolution of all the moral elements which 
regulate the conduct of men in their social condition — in this 
monstrous, and scarcely conceivable spectacle of a King, at 
the head of a mighty Nation, in secret league with the ene- 
mies against whom he has proclaimed himself at war, and 
of a Legislature conspiring to destroy the King and Consti- 
tution to which they have sworn allegiance and support, 
Lafayette alone is seen to preserve his fidelity to the King, 
to the Constitution, and to his country. 


" Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified, 

" His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal." 

On the 16th of June, 1792, four days before the first vio- 
lation of the Palace of the Tuilleries by the populace of Paris, 
at the instigation of the Jacobins, Lafayette, in a letter to the 
Legislative Assembly, had denounced the Jacobin Club, and 
called upon the Assembly to suppress them. He afterwards 
repaired to Paris in person, presented himself at the bar of 
the Assembly, repeated his denunciation of the Club, and 
took measures for suppressing their meetings by force. He 
proposed also to the King himself to furnish him with means 
of withdrawing with his family to Compiegne, where he 
would have been out of the reach of that ferocious and 
blood-thirsty multitude. The Assembly, by a great majority 
of votes, sustained the principles of his letter, but the King 
declined his proffered assistance to enable him to withdraw 
from Paris; and of those upon whom he called to march with 
him, and shut up the hall where the Jacobins held their meet- 
ings, not more than thirteen persons presented themselves at 
the appointed time. 

He returned to his army, and became thenceforth the 
special object of Jacobin resentment and revenge. On the 
8th of August, on a preliminary measure to the intended 
insurrection of the 10th, the question was taken, after several 
days of debate, upon a formal motion that he should be put 
in accusation and tried. The last remnant of freedom in that 
Assembly was then seen by the vote upon nominal appeal, or 
yeas and nays, in which four hundred and forty-six votes 
were for rejecting the charge, and only two hundred and 
twenty-four for sustaining it. Two days after, the Tuil- 


leries were stormed by popular insurrection. The unfor- 
tunate King was compelled to seek refuge, with his family, 
in the Hall of the Legislative Assembly, and escaped from 
being torn to pieces by an infuriated multitude, only to pass 
from his palace to the prison, in his way to the scaffold. 

This revolution, thus accomplished, annihilated the Con- 
stitution, the Government, and the cause for which Lafayette 
had contended. The People of France, by their acquies- 
cence, a great portion of them by direct approval, confirmed 
and sanctioned the abolition of the Monarchy. The armies 
and their commanders took the same victorious side : not a 
.show of resistance was made to the revolutionary torrent, not 
an arm was lifted to restore the fallen Monarch to his throne, 
nor even to rescue or protect his person from the fury of his 
inexorable foes. Lafayette himself would have marched to 
Paris with his army, for the defence of the Constitution, but 
in this disposition he was not seconded by his troops. After 
ascertaining that the effort would be vain, and after arresting 
at Sedan the members of the Deputation from the Legislative 
Assembly, sent, after their own subjugation, to arrest him, he 
determined, as the only expedient left him to save his honor 
and his principles, to withdraw both from the army and the 
country; to pass into a neutral territory, and thence into 
these United States, the country of his early adoption and his 
fond partiality, where he was sure of finding a" safe asylum, 
and of meeting a cordial welcome. 

But his destiny had reserved him for other and severer 
trials. We have seen him struggling for the support of 
principles, against the violence of raging factions, and the 
fickleness of the multitude; we are now to behold him in the 


hands of the hereditary rulers of mankind, and to witness the 
nature of their tender mercies to him. 

It was in the neutral territory of Liege that he, together 
with his companions, Latour Maubourg, Bureau de Puzy, 
and Alexandre Lameth, was taken by Austrians, and trans- 
ferred to Prussian guards. Under the circumstances of the 
case, he could not, by the principles of the laws of Nations, 
be treated even as a prisoner of war. He was treated as a 
prisoner of State. Prisoners of State in the Monarchies of 
Europe are always presumed guilty, and are treated as if 
entitled as little to mercy as to justice. Lafayette was 
immured in dungeons, first at Wesel,then at Magdeburg, and, 
finally, at Olmutz, in Moravia. By what right? By none 
known among men. By what authority? That has never 
been avowed. For what cause? None has ever been 
assigned. Taken by Austrian soldiers upon a neutral terri- 
tory, handed over to Prussian jailers ; and, when Frederick 
William of Prussia abandoned his Austrian ally, and made his 
separate peace with republican France, he retransferred his 
illustrious prisoner to the Austrians, from whom he had 
received him, that he might be deprived of the blessing of 
regaining his liberty, even from the hands of Peace. Five 
years was the duration of this imprisonment, aggravated by 
every indignity that could make oppression bitter. That it 
was intended as imprisonment for life, was not only freely 
avowed, but significantly made known to him by his jailers; 
and while, with affected precaution, the means of terminating 
his sufferings by his own act were removed from him, the 
barbarity of ill usage, of unwholesome food, and of a pestifer- 
ous atmosphere, was applied with inexorable rigor, as if to 


abridge the days which, at the same time, were rendered as 
far as possible insupportable to himself. 

Neither the generous sympathies of the gallant soldier, 
General Fitzpatrick, in the British House of Commons, nor 
the personal solicitation of Washington, President of the 
United States, speaking with the voice of a grateful Nation, 
nor the persuasive accents of domestic and conjugal affection, 
imploring the Monarch of Austria for the release of Lafayette, 
could avail. The unsophisticated feeling of generous nature 
in the hearts of men, at this outrage upon justice and human- 
ity, was manifested in another form. Two individuals, 
private citizens, one, of the United States of America, 
Francis Huger, the other, a native of the Electorate of 
Hanover, Doctor Erick BoUmann, undertook, at the imminent 
hazard of their lives, to supply means for his escape from 
prison, and their personal aid to its accomplishment. Their 
design was formed with great address, pursued with untiring 
perseverance, and executed with undaunted intrepidity. It 
was frustrated by accidents beyond the control of human 

To his persecutions, however, the hand of a wise and just 
Providence had, in its own time, and in its own way, prepared 
a termination. The hands of the Emperor Francis, tied 
by mysterious and invisible bands against the indulgence of 
mercy to the tears of a more than heroic wife, were loosened 
by the more prevailing eloquence, or, rather, were severed 
by the conquering sword of Napoleon Bonaparte, acting 
under instructions from the Executive Directory, then 
swaying the destinies of France. 


Lafayette and his fellow-sufferers were still under the 
sentence of proscription issued by the faction which had de^ 
stroyed the Constitution of 1791, and murdered the ill-fated 
Louis and his Queen. But revolution had followed upon 
revolution since the downfall of the Monarchy, on the 10th 
of August, 1792. The Federative Republicans of the Gironde 
had been butchered by the Jacobin Republicans of the Moun- 
tain. The Mountain had been subjugated by the Munici- 
pality of Paris, and the sections of Paris, by a reorganization 
of parties in the National Convention, and with aid from 
the armies. Brissot and his federal associates, Danton and 
his party, Robespierre and his subaltern demons, had suc- 
cessively perished, each by the measure applied to them- 
selves which they had meted out to others ; and as no 
experiment of political empiricism was to be omitted in the 
medley of the French Revolutions, the hereditary Executive, 
with a single Legislative Assembly, was succeeded by a 
Constitution with a Legislature in two branches, and a five- 
headed Executive, eligible, annually one-fifth, by their 
concurrent votes, and bearing the name of a Directory. This 
was the Government at whose instance Lafayette was finally 
liberated from the dungeon of Olmutz. 

But, while this Directory were shaking to their deepest 
foundations all the Monarchies of Europe ; while they were 
stripping Austria, the most potent of them all, piecemeal of 
her territories ; while they were imposing upon her the most 
humiliating conditions of peace, and bursting open her dun- 
geons to restore their illustrious countryman to the light of 
day and the blessing of personal freedom, they were them- 
selves exploding by internal combustion, divided into two 


factions, each conspiring the destruction of the other. La- 
fayette received his freedom, only to see the two members of 
the Directory, who had taken the warmest interest in effecting 
his liberation, outlawed and proscribed by their colleagues : 
one of them, Carnot, a fugitive from his country, lurking in 
banishment to escape pursuit ; and the other, Bartheleray, 
deported, with fifty members of the Legislative Assembly, 
without form of trial, or even of legal process, to the pes- 
tilential climate of Guiana. All this was done with the 
approbation, expressed in the most unqualified terms, of 
Napoleon, and with co-operation of his army. Upon being 
informed of the success of this Pride's purge, he wrote to 
the Directory that he had with him one hundred thousand 
men, upon whom they might rely to cause to be respected 
all the measures that they should take to establish liberty 
upon solid foundations. 

Two years afterwards, another revolution, directly accom- 
plished by Napoleon himself, demolished the Directory, the 
Constitution of the two Councils, and the solid liberty, to 
the support of which the hundred thousand men had been 
pledged, and introduced another Constitution, with Bonapartc- 
himself for its Executive Head, as the first of three Con- 
suls, for five years. 

In the interval between these two revolutions, Lafayette 
resided for about two years, first in the Danish Territory of 
Holstein, and, afterwards, at Utrecht, in the Batavian Re- 
public. Neither of them had been eflected by means or in 
a manner which could possibly meet his approbation. But 
the Consular Government commenced with broad professions 
of republican principles, on the faith of which he returned 


to France, and for a series of years resided in privacy and 
retirement upon his estate of La Grange. Here, in the 
cultivation of his farm, and the enjoyment of domestic felicity, 
embittered only by the loss, in 1807, of that angel upon 
earth, the partner of all the vicissitudes of his life, he 
employed his time, and witnessed the upward flight and 
downward fall of the soldier and sport of fortune. Napoleon 
Bonaparte. He had soon perceived the hoUowness of the 
Consular professions of pure republican principles, and 
withheld himself from all participation in the Government. 
In 1802, he was elected a member of the General Council 
of the Department of Upper Loire, and, in declining the 
appointment, took occasion to present a review of his pre- 
ceding life, and a pledge of his perseverance in the principles 
which he had previously sustained. " Far," said he, " from 
" the scene of public affairs, and devoting myself at last to 
" the repose of private life, my ardent wishes are, that 
" external peace should soon prove the fruit of those miracles 
" of glory which are even now surpassing the prodigies of 
" the preceding campaigns, and that internal peace should be 
" consolidated upon the essential and invariable foundations 
" of true liberty. Happy that twenty-three years of vicissi- 
" tudes in my fortune, and of constancy to my principles, 
" authorize me to lepeat, that, if a Nation, to recover itb 
" rights, needs only the will, they can only be preserved 
" by inflexible fidelity to its obligations." 

When the First Consulate for five years was invented as 
one of the steps of the ladder of Napoleon's ambition, he 
suifered Sieyes, the member of the Directory whom he had 
used as an instrument for casting off" that worse than worthless 


institution, to prepare another Constitution, of which he took 
as much as suited his purpose, and consigned the rest to 
oblivion. One of the wheels of this new political engine 
was a conservative Senate, forming the Peerage to sustain 
the Executive Head. This body it was the interest and the 
policy of Napoleon to conciliate, and he filled it with men 
who, through all the previous stages of the Revolution, had 
acquired and maintained the highest respectability of cha- 
racter. Lafayette was urged with great earnestness, by 
Napoleon himself, to take a seat in this Senate ; but, after 
several conferences with the First Consul, in which he ascer- 
tained the extent of his designs, he peremptorily declined. 
His answer to the Minister of War tempered his refusal 
with a generous and delicate compliment, alluding at the 
same time to the position which the consistency of his 
character made it his duty to occupy. To the First Consul 
himself, in terms equally candid and explicit, he said, " that, 
" from the direction which public affairs were taking, what he 
" already saw, and what it was easy to foresee, it did not seem 
" suitable to his character to enter into an order of things 
" contrary to his principles, and in which he would have to 
" contend without success, as without public utility, against 
" a man to whom he was indebted for great obligations." 

Not long afterwards, when all republican principle was so 
utterly prostrated that he was summoned to vote on the 
question whether the citizen Napoleon Bonaparte should be 
Consul for life, Lafayette added to his vote the following 
comment : " I cannot vote for such a Magistracy until the 
public liberty shall have been sufficiently guarantied ; and in 
that event I vote for Napoleon Bonaparte." 


He wrote at the same time to the First Consul a letter 
explanatory of his vote, which no Republican will now read 
without recognising the image of inordinate and triumphant 
ambition cowering under the rebuke of disinterested virtue. 

" The 18th of Brumaire [said this letter] saved France ; 
" and I felt myself recalled by the liberal professions to 
" which you had attached your honor. Since then, we have 
" seen in the Consular power that reparatory dictatorship 
" which, under the auspices of your genius, has achieved 
" so much ; yet not so much as will be the restoration of 
" liberty. It is impossible that you, General, the first of 
*' that order of men who, to compare and seat themselves, 
" take in the compass of all ages, that you should wish such 
" a revolution — so many victories, so much blood, so many 
" calamities and prodigies, should have for the world and 
'' for you no other result than an arbitrary Government. The 
" French People have too well known their rights ultimately 
" to forget them ; but perhaps they are now better prepared, 
" than in the time of their effervescence, to recover them 
" usefully ; and you, by the force of your character, and of 
" the public confidence, by the superiority of your talents, 
" of your position, of your fortune, may, by the re-establish- 
" ment of liberty, surmount every danger, and relieve eveiy 
" anxiety. I have, then, no other than patriotic and personal 
" motives for wishing you this last addition to your glory — a 
" permanent magistracy ; but it is due to the principles, the 
" engagements, and the actions of my whole life, to wait, be- 
" fore giving my vote, until liberty shall have been settled 
" upon foundations worthy of the Nation and of you. I hope, 
*' General, that you will here find, as heretofore, that with the 


" perseverance of my political opinions are united sincere 
" good wishes personally to you, and a profound sentiment of 
" ray obligations to you." 

The writer of this letter, and he to whom it was addressed, 
have, each in his appropriate sphere, been instruments of 
transcendent power, in the hands of Providence, to shape the 
ends of its wisdom in the wonderful story of the French 
Revolution. In contemplating the part which each of them 
had acted upon that great theatre of human destiny, before 
the date of the letter, how strange was at that moment the 
relative position of the two individuals to each other, and to 
the world ! Lafayette was the founder of the great move- 
ment then in progress for the establishment of freedom in 
France, and in the European world ; but his agency had been 
all intellectual and moral. He had asserted and proclaimed 
the principles. He had never violated, never betrayed 
them. Napoleon, a military adventurer, had vapored in 
proclamations, and had the froth of Jacobinism upon his 
lips ; but his soul was at the point of his sword. The 
Revolution was to Lafayette the cause of human kind ; to 
Napoleon it was a mere ladder of ambition. 

Yet, at the time when this letter was written, Lafayette, 
after a series of immense sacrifices and unparalleled sufl'er- 
ings, was a private citizen, called to account to the world 
for declining to vote for placing Napoleon at the head of 
the French Nation, with arbitrary and indefinite power for 
life ; and Napoleon, amid professions of unbounded devotion 
to liberty^ was, in the face of mankind, ascending the steps 
of an hereditary imperial and royal throne. Such was their 
relative position then ; what is it now ? Has History a 


lesson for mankind more instructive than the contrast and 
the parallel of their fortunes and their fate ? Time and 
chance, and the linger of Providence, which, in every de- 
viation from the path of justice, reserves or opens to itself 
an avenue of return, has brought each of these mighty men 
to a close of life, congenial to the character with which he 
travelled over its scenes. The Consul for life, the heredi- 
tary Emperor and King, expires a captive on a barren rock 
in the wilderness of a distant Ocean — separated from his 
imperial wife — separated from his son, who survives him 
only to pine away his existence, and die at the moment of 
manhood, in the condition of an Austrian Prince. The 
Apostle of Liberty survives, again to come forward, the ever- 
consistent champion of her cause, and, finally, to close his 
career in peace, a Republican, without reproach in death, as 
he had been without fear throughout life. 

But Napoleon was to be the artificer of his own fortune?, 
prosperous and adverse. He was rising by the sword; by 
the sword he was destined to fall. The counsels of Avisdom 
and of virtue fell forceless upon his ear, or sunk into his 
heart only to kindle resentment and hatred. He sought 
no further personal intercourse with Lafayette ; and denied 
common justice to his son, who had entered and distin- 
guished himself in the army of Italy, and from whom he 
withheld the promotion justly due to his services. 

The career of glory, of fame, and of power, of which the 
Consulate for life was but the first step, was of ten years' 
continuance, till it had reached its zenith ; till the astonished 
eyes of mankind beheld the charity scholar of Brienne, 
Emperor, King, and Protector of the Confederation of the 


Rhine, banqueting at Dresden, surrounded by a circle of 
tributary crowned heads, among whom was seen that veiy 
Francis of Austria, the keeper, in his Castle of Olmutz, of the 
republican Lafayette. And upon that day of the ban- 
queting at Dresden, the star of Napoleon culminated from 
the Equator. Thenceforward it was to descend with motion 
far more rapid than when rising, till it sank in endless 
night. Through that long period, Lafayette remained in 
retirement at La Grange. Silent amidst the deafening shouts 
of victory from Marengo, and Jena, and Austerlitz, and 
Friedland, and Wagram, and Borodino — silent at the con- 
flagration of Moscow ; at the passage of the Beresina ; at 
the irretrievable discomfiture of Leipzig ; at the capitula- 
tion at the gates of Paris, and at the first restoration of the 
Bourbons, under the auspices of the inveterate enemies of 
France — as little could Lafayette participate in the mea- 
sures of that restoration, as in the usurpations of Napoleon. 
Louis the Eighteenth was quartered upon the French Nation 
as the soldiers of the victorious armies were quartered upon 
the inhabitants of Paris. Yet Louis the Eighteenth, who held 
his Crown as the gift of the conquerors of France, the most 
humiliating of the conditions imposed upon the vanquished 
Nation, affected to hold it by Divine right, and to grant, as a 
special favor, a Charter^ or Constitution, founded on the 
avowed principle that all the liberties of the Nation were 
no more than gratuitous donations of the King. 

These pretensions, with a corresponding course of policy 
pursued by the reinstated Government of the Bourbons, 
and the disregard of the national feelings and interests of 
France, with which Europe was remodelled at the Congress 


of Vienna, opened the way for the return of Napoleon 
from Elba, within a year from the time when he had been 
relegated there. He landed as a solitary adventurer, and 
the Nation rallied round him with rapture. He came with 
promises to the Nation of freedom as well as of indepen- 
dence. The Allies of Vienna proclaimed against him a 
war of extermination, and reinvaded France with armies 
exceeding in numbers a million of men. Lafayette had 
been courted by Napoleon upon his return. He was again 
urged to take a seat in the House of Peers, but peremp- 
torily declined, from aversion to its hereditary character. 
He had refused to resume his title of nobility, and pro- 
tested against the Constitution of the Empire, and the 
additional act entailing the imperial hereditary Crown upon 
the family of Napoleon. But he offered himself as a can- 
didate for election as a member of the popular Represen- 
tative Chamber of the Legislature, and was unanimously 
chosen by the Electoral College of his Department to that 
station . 

The battle of Waterloo was the last desperate struggle 
of Napoleon to recover his fallen fortunes, and its issue 
fixed his destiny forever. He escaped almost alone from 
the field, and returned a fugitive to Paris, projecting to 
dissolve by armed force the Legislative i\.ssembly, and, as- 
suming a dictatorial power, to levy a new army, and try the 
desperate chances of another battle. This purpose was 
defeated by the energy and promptitude of Lafayette. At 
his instance the Assembly adopted three resolutions, one 
of which declared them in permanent session, and denounced 
any attempt to dissolve them as a crime of high treason. 


After a feeble and fruitless attempt of Napoleon, through 
his brother Lucien, to obtain from the Assembly itself a tem- 
porary dictatorial power, he abdicated the Imperial Crown in 
favor of his infant son ; but his abdication could not relieve 
France from the deplorable condition to which he had re- 
duced her. France, from the day of the battle of Waterloo, 
was at the mercy of the allied Monarchs ; and, as the last act 
of their revenge, they gave her again the Bourbons. France 
was constrained to receive them. It was at the point of the 
bayonet, and resistance was of no avail. The Legislative 
Assembly appointed a Provisional Council of Government, 
and Commissioners, of whom Lafayette was one, to negotiate 
with the allied armies then rapidly advancing upon Paris. 

The Allies manifested no disposition to negotiate. They 
closed the doors of their Hall upon the Representatives of the 
People of France. They reseated Louis the Eighteenth 
upon his throne. Against these measures Lafayette and 
the members of the Assembly had no means of resistance 
left, save a fearless protest, to be remembered when the 
day of freedom should return. 

From the time of this second restoration until his death, 
Lafayette, who had declined accepting a seat in the heredi- 
tary Chamber of Peers, and inflexibly refused to resume his 
title of nobility, though the Charter of Louis the Eighteenth 
had restored them all, was almost constantly a member of the 
Chamber of Deputies, the popular branch of the Legislature. 
More than once, however, the influence of the Court was 
successful in defeating his election. At one of these in- 
.tervals, he employed the leisure afforded him in revisiting 
the United States. 


Forty years had elapsed since he had visited and taken 
leave of them, at the close of the Revolutionary War. The 
greater part of the generation for and with whom he had 
fought his first fields, had passed away. Of the two millions 
of souls to whose rescue from oppression he had crossed the 
Ocean in 1777, not one in ten survived. But their places 
were supplied b}' more than five times their numbers, their 
descendants and successors. The sentiment of gratitude and 
affection for Lafayette, far from declining with the lapse of 
time, quickened in spirit as it advanced in years, and seemed 
to multiply with the increasing numbers of the People. The 
Nation had never ceased to sympathize with his fortunes, and, 
in every vicissitude of his life, had manifested the deepest 
interest in his welfare. He had occasionally expressed his 
intention to visit once more the scene of his early achieve- 
ments, and the country which had requited his services by a 
just estimate of their value. In February, 1824, a solemn 
Legislative act, unanimously passed by both Houses of Con- 
gress, and approved by the President of the United States, 
charged the Chief Magistrate of the Nation with the duty of 
communicating t© him the assurances of grateful and affection- 
ate attachment still cherished for him by the Government 
and People of the United States, and of tendering to him a 
national ship, with suitable accommodation, for his conveyance 
to this country. 

Ten years have passed away since the occurrence of that 
event. Since then, the increase of population within the 
borders of our Union exceeds, in numbers, the whole mass of 
that infant comm.unity to whose liberties he had devoted, in 
early youth, his life and fortune. His companions and fel- 


low-soldieis of the war of Independence, of whom a scanty 
remnant still existed to join in the universal shout of welcome 
with which he landed upon our shores, have been since, in 
the ordinary course of nature, dropping away : pass but a few 
short years more, and not an individual of that generation 
with which he toiled and bled in the cause of human kind, 
upon his first appearance on the field of human action, will be 
left. The gallant officer, and distinguished Representative of 
the People, at whose motion, upon this floor, the invitation of 
the Nation was given — the Chief Magistrate by whom, in 
compliance with the will of the Legislature, it was tendered — 
the surviving Presidents of the United States, and their vene- 
rable compeer signers of the Declaration of Independence, 
who received him to the arms of private friendship, while 
mingling their voices in the chorus of public exultation and 
joy, are no longer here to shed the tear of sorrow upon his 
departure from this earthly scene. They all preceded him in 
the translation to another, and, we trust, a happier world. 
The active, energetic manhood of the Nation, of whose in- 
fancy he had been the protector and benefactor, and who, 
by the protracted festivities of more than a year of jubilee, 
manifested to him their sense of the obligations for which 
they were indebted to him, are already descending into the 
vale of years. The children of the public schools, who 
thronged in double files to pass in review before him to catch 
a glimpse of his countenance, and a smile from his eye, are 
now among the men and women of the land, rearing another 
generation to envy their parents the joy which they can never 
share, of having seen and contributed to the glorious and 
triumphant reception of Lafayette. 


Upon his return to France, Lafayette was received with 
a welcome by his countrymen scarcely less enthusiastic than 
that with which he had been greeted in this country. From 
his landing at Havre till his arrival at his residence at La 
Grange, it was again one triumphal march, rendered but the 
more striking by the interruptions and obstacles of an 
envious and jealous Government. Threats were not even 
spared of arresting him as a criminal, and holding him 
responsible for the spontaneous and irrepressible feelings 
manifested by the People in his favor. He was, very soon 
after his return, again elected a member of the Chamber of 
Deputies, and thenceforward, in that honorable and inde- 
pendent station, was the soul of that steadfast and inflexible 
party which never ceased to defend, and was ultimately 
destined to vindicate the liberties of France. 

The Government of the Bourbons, from the time of their 
restoration, was a perpetual struggle to return to the Satur- 
nian times of absolute power. For them the Sun and Moon 
had stood still, not, as in the miracle of ancient story, for 
about a whole day, but for more than a whole century. 
Reseated upon their thrones, not, as the Stuarts had been in 
the seventeenth century, by the voluntary act of the same 
People which had expelled them, but by the arms of foreign 
Kings and hostile armies, instead of aiming, by the liberality 
of their Government, and by improving the condition of their 
People, to make them forget the humiliation of the yoke im- 
posed upon them, they labored with unyielding tenacity to 
make it more galling. They disarmed the National Guards ; 
they cramped and crippled the right of suffiage in elections ; 
they perverted and travestied the institution of juries ; they 


fettered the freedom of the Press, and in their external policy 
lent themselves, willing instruments to crush the liberties of 
Spain and Italy. The spirit of the Nation was curbed, but not 
subdued. The principles of freedom proclaimed in the Decla- 
ration of Rights of 1789 had taken too deep root to be extir- 
pated. Charles the Tenth, by a gradual introduction into his 
councils of the most inveterate adherents to the anti-revolu- 
tionary Government, was preparing the way for the annihila- 
tion of the Charter and of the Legislative Representation of 
the People. In proportion as this plan approached to its 
maturity, the resistance of the Nation to its accomplishment 
acquired consistency and organization. The time had been, 
when, by the restrictions upon the right of suffrage, and the 
control of the Press, and even of the freedom of debate in 
the Legislature, the Opposition in the Chamber of Deputies 
had dwindled down to not more than thirty members. But, 
under a rapid succession of incompetent and unpopular Ad- 
ministrations, the majority of the House of Deputies had 
passed from the side of the Court to that of the People. In 
August, 1829, the King, confiding in his imaginary strength, 
reorganized his Ministry by the appointment of men whose 
reputation was itself a pledge of the violent and desperate 
designs in contemplation. At the first meeting of the Legisla- 
tive Assembly, an address to the King, signed by two hundred 
and twenty-one out of four hundred members, declared to him, 
in respectful terms, that a concurrence of sentiments between 
his Ministers and the Nation was indispensable to the happi- 
ness of the People under his Government, and that this 
concurrence did not exist. He replied, that his determination 
was immovable, and dissolved the Assembly. A new election 


was held ; and so odious throughout the Nation were tlie 
measures of the Court, that, of the two hundred and twenty- 
one members who had signed the address against the 
Ministers, more than two hundred were reelected. The 
Opposition had also gained an accession of numbers in the 
remaining part of the Deputations, and it was apparent that, 
upon the meeting of the Assembly, the Court party could not 
be sustained. 

At this crisis, Charles the Tenth, as if resolved to leave 
himself not the shadow of a pretext to complain of his expul- 
sion from the throne, in defiance of the Charter, to the obser- 
vance of which he had solemnly sworn, issued, at one and 
the same time, four Ordinances — the first of which suspended 
the liberty of the Press, and prohibited the publication of all 
the daily newspapers and other periodical journals, but by 
license, revocable at pleasure, and renewable every three 
months ; the second annulled the election of Deputies, which 
had just taken place ; the third changed the mode of election 
prescribed by law, and reduced nearly by one-half the 
numbers of the House of Deputies to be elected ; and the 
fourth commanded the new elections to be held, and fixed a 
day for the meeting of the Assembly to be so constituted. 

These Ordinances were the immediate occasion of the last 
Revolution of the three days, terminating in the final expulsion 
of Charles the Tenth from the throne, and of himself and his 
family from the Territory of France. This was effected by 
an insurrection of the People of Paris, which burst forth, by 
spontaneous and unpremeditated movement, on the very day 
of the promulgation of the four Ordinances. The first of 
these, the suppression of all the daily newspapers, seemed as 


if studiously devised to provoke instantaneous resistance, and 
the conflict of physical force. Had Charles the Tenth issued 
a decree to shut up all the bakehouses of Paris, it could not 
have been more fatal to his authority. The conductors of 
the proscribed journals, by mutual engagement among them- 
selves, determined to consider the Ordinance as unlavi^ful, 
null, and void ; and this was to all classes of the People the 
signal of resistance. The publishers of two of the journals, 
summoned immediately before the Judicial Tribunal, were 
justified in their resistance by the sentence of the court, 
pronouncing the Ordinance null and void. A Marshal of 
France receives the commands of the King to disperse, by 
force of arms, the population of Paris ; but the spontaneous 
resurrection of the National Guard organizes at once an army 
to defend the liberties of the Nation. Lafayette is again 
called from his retreat at La Grange, and, by the unanimous 
voice of the People, confirmed by such Deputies of the Legis- 
lative Assembly as were able to meet for common consultation 
at that trying emergency, is again placed at the head of the 
National Guard as their Commander-in-chief. He assumed 
the command on the second day of the conflict, and on the 
third Charles the Tenth had ceased to reign. He formally 
abdicated the Crown, and his son, the Duke d'Angouleme, 
renounced his pretensions to the succession. But, humble 
imitators of Napoleon, even in submitting to their own 
degradation, they clung to the last gasp of hereditary sway, 
by transmitting all their claim of dominion to the orphan child 
of the Duke de Berri. 

At an early stage of the Revolution of 1789, Lafayette 
had declared it as a principle that insurrection against tyrants 


was the most sacred of duties. He had borrowed this senti- 
ment, perhaps, from the motto of Jefferson — " Rebellion to 
tyrants is obedience to God." The principle itself is as 
sound as its enunciation is daring. Like all general maxims, 
it is susceptible of very dangerous abuses : the test of its 
truth is exclusively in the correctness of its application. As 
forming a part of the political creed of Lafayette, it has been 
severely criticised ; nor can it be denied that, in the experi- 
ence of the French Revolutions, the cases in which popular 
insurrection has been resorted to, for the extinction of exist- 
ing authority, have been so frequent, so unjustifiable in their 
causes, so atrocious in their execution, so destructive to 
liberty in their consequences, that the friends of Freedom, 
who know that she can exist only under the supremacy of 
the law, have sometimes felt themselves constrained to shrink 
from the development of abstract truth, in the dread of the 
danger with which she is surrounded. 

In the Revolution of the three days of 1830, it was 
the steady, calm, but inflexible adherence of Lafayette 
to this maxim which decided the fate of the Bourbons. 
After the struggles of the People had commenced, and even 
while liberty and power were grappling with each other for 
life or death, the Deputies elect to the Legislative Assembly, 
then at Paris, held several meetings at the house of their col- 
league, Laffitte, and elsewhere, at which the question of 
resistance against the Ordinances was warmly debated, and 
aversion to that resistance by force was the sentiment predo- 
minant in the minds of a majority of the members. The 
hearts of some of the most ardent patriots quailed within 
them at the thought of another overthrow of the Monarchy. 


All the horrible lecollections of the reign ol terror, the mas- 
sacre of the prisons in September, the butcheries of the guil- 
lotine from year to year, the headless trunks of Brissot, and 
Danton, and Robespierre, and last, not least, the iron crown 
and sceptre of Napoleon himself, rose in hideous succession 
before them, and haunted their imaginations. They detested 
the Ordinances, but hoped that, by negotiation and remon- 
strance with the recreant King, it might yet be possible to 
obtain the revocation of them, and the substitution of a more 
liberal Ministry. This deliberation was not concluded till 
Lafayette appeared among them. From that moment the die 
was cast. They had till then no military leader. Louis 
Philippe, of Orleans, had not then been seen among them. 

In all the changes of Government in France, from the 
first Assembly of Notables, to that day, there never had been 
an act of authority presenting a case for the fair and just 
application of the duty of resistance against oppression, so 
clear, so unquestionable, so flagrant as this. The violations 
of the Charter were so gross and palpable, that the most 
determined Royalist could not deny them. The mask had 
been laid aside. The sword of despotism had been drawn, 
and the scabbard cast away. A King, openly forsworn, had 
forfeited every claim to allegiance; and the only resource of 
the Nation against him was resistance by force. This was 
the opinion of Lafayette, and he declared himself ready to 
take the command of the National Guard, should the wish of 
the People, already declared thus to place him at the head of 
this spontaneous movement, be confirmed by his colleagues 
of the Legislative Assembly. The appointment was accord- 
ingly conferred upon him, and the second day afterwards 


Charles the Tenth and his family were tugitives to a foreign 

France was without a Government. She might then 
have constituted herself a Republic ; and such was, undoubt- 
edly, the aspiration of a very large portion of her population. 
But with another, and yet larger portion of her People, the 
name of Republic was identified with the memory of Robes- 
pierre. It was held in execration ; there was imminent dan- 
ger, if not absolute certainty, that the attempt to organize 
a Republic would have been the signal for a new civil 
war. The name of a Republic, too, was hateful to all the 
neighbors of France ; to the Confederacy of Emperors and 
Kings, which had twice replaced the Bourbons upon the 
throne, and who might be propitiated under the disappoint- 
ment and mortification of the result, by the retention of 
the name of King, and the substitution of the semblance of 
a Bourbon for the reality. 

The People of France, like the Cardinal de Retz, more 
than two centuries before, wanted a descendant from Henry 
the Fourth, who could speak the language of the Parisian 
populace, and who had known what it was to be a Ple- 
beian> They found him in the person of Louis Philippe, of 
Orleans. Lafayette himself was compelled to compromise 
with his principles, purely and simply republican, and to 
accept him, first as Lieutenant General of the Kingdom, and 
then as hereditary King. There was, perhaps, in this deter- 
mination, besides the motives which operated upon others, a 
consideration of disinterested delicacy, which could be 
applicable only to himself. If the Republic should be pro- 
claimed, he knew that the Chief Magistracy could be dele- 


gated only to himself. It must have been a Chief Magistracy 
for life, which, at his age, could only have been for a short 
term of years. Independent of the extreme dangers and 
difficulties to himself, to his family, and to his country, in 
which the position which he would have occupied might 
have involved them, the inquiry could not escape his fore- 
cast, who, upon his demise, could be his successor ? and 
what must be the position occupied by him ? If, at that 
moment, he had but spoken the word, he might have closed 
his career with a Crown upon his head, and with a wither- 
ing blast upon his name to the end of time. 

With the Duke of Orleans himself, he used no con- 
cealment or disguise. When the Crown was offered to that 
Prince, and he looked to Lafayette for consultation, " you 
know (said he) that I am of the American school^ and par- 
tial to the Constitution of the United States." So, it seems, 
was Louis Philippe. " I think with you," said he. '' It is 
impossible to pass two years in the United States, with- 
out being convinced that their Government is the best in 
the world. But do you think it suited to our present cir- 
cumstances and condition ?" No, replied Lafayette. They 
require a Monarchy surrounded by popular institutions. So 
thought, also, Louis Philippe ; and he accepted the Crown 
under the conditions upon which it was tendered to him. 

Lafayette retained the command of the National Guard 
so long as it was essential to the settlement of the new 
order of things, on the basis of order and of freedom ; so 
long as it was essential to control tlie stormy and excited 
passions of the Parisian People ; so long as was necessary 
to save the Ministers of the guilty but fallen Monarch from 


the rash and revengeful resentments of their conquerors. 
When this was accomplished, and the People had been pre- 
served from the calamity of shedding in peace the blood 
of war, he once more resigned his command, retired in 
privacy to La Grange, and resumed his post as a Deputy 
in the Legislative Assembly, which he continued to hold 
till the close of life. 

His station there was still at the head of the phalanx, 
supporters of liberal principles and of constitutional freedom. 
In Spain, in Portugal, in Italy, and, above all, in Poland, 
the cause of liberty has been struggling against the hand 
of power, and, to the last hour of his life, they found in 
Lafayette a never-failing friend and patron. 

In his last illness, the standing which he held in the 
hearts of mankind was attested by the formal resolution of 
the House of Deputies, met to make inquiries concerning his 
condition ; and, dying, as he did, full of years and of glory, 
never, in the history of mankind, has a private individual 
departed more universally lamented by the whole generation 
of men whom he has left behind. 

Such, Legislators of the North American Confederate 
Union, was the life of Gilbert Motier de Lafayette, and 
the record of his life is the delineation of his character. 
Consider him as one human being of one thousand millions, 
his cotemporaries on the surface of the terraqueous globe. 
Among that thousand millions seek for an object of com- 
parison with him ; assume for the standard of comparison 
all the virtues which exalt the character of man above that 
of the brute creation ; take the ideal man, little lower than 
the angels ; mark the qualities of the mind and heart which 


entitle liim to this station of preeminence in the scale of 
created beings, and inquire who, that lived in the eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries of the Christian sera, combined in 
himself so many of those qualities, so little alloyed with 
those which belong to that earthly vesture of decay in 
which the immortal spirit is enclosed, as Lafayette. 

Pronounce him one of the first men of his age, and you 
have yet not done him justice. Try him by that test to 
which he sought in vain to stimulate the vulgar and selfish 
spirit of Napoleon ; class him among the men who, to com- 
pare and seat themselves, must take in the compass of all 
ages ; turn back your eyes upon the records of time ; sum- 
mon from the creation of the Avorld to this day the mighty 
dead of every age and every clime — and where, among the 
race of merely mortal men, shall one be found, who, as the 
benefactor of his kind, shall claim to take precedence of 
Lafayette ? 

There have doubtless been, in all ages, men, whose 
discoveries or inventions, in the world of matter or of mind, 
have opened new avenues to the dominion of man over the 
material creation ; have increased his means or his faculties 
of enjoyment ; have raised him in nearer approximation to 
that higher and happier condition, the object of his hopes 
and aspirations in his present state of existence. 

Lafayette discovered no new principle of politics or of 
morals. lie invented nothing in science. He disclosed no 
new phenomenon in the laws of nature. Born and educated 
in the highest order of feudal Nobility, under the most 
absolute Monarchy of Europe, in possession of an affluent for- 
tune, and master of himself and of all his capabilities at the 


moment of attaining manhood, the principle of republican 
justice and of social equality took possession of his heart 
and mind, as if by inspiration from above. He devoted him- 
self, his life, his fortune, his hereditary honors, his towering 
ambition, his splendid hopes, all to the cause of liberty. He 
came to another hemisphere to defend her. He became one 
of the most effective champions of our Independence ; but, 
that once achieved, he returned to his own country, and 
thenceforward took ho part in the controversies which have 
divided us. In the events of our Revolution, and in the 
forms of policy which we have adopted for the establishment 
and perpetuation of our freedom, Lafayette found the most 
perfect form of government. He wished to add nothing to 
it. He would gladly have abstracted nothing from it. In- 
stead of the imaginary Republic of Plato, or the Utopia of Sir 
Thomas More, he took a practical existing model, in actual 
operation here, and never attempted or wished more than to 
apply it faithfully to his own country. 

It was not given to Moses to enter the promised land ; but 
he saw it from the summit of Pisgah. It was not given to 
Lafayette to witness the consummation of his wishes in the 
establishment of a Republic, and the extinction of all heredi- 
tary rule in France. His principles were in advance of the 
age and hemisphere in which he lived. A Bourbon still 
reigns on the throne of France, and it is not for us to scruti- 
nize the title by which he reigns. The principles of elective 
and hereditary power, blended in reluctant union in his per- 
son, like the red and white roses of York and Lancaster, may 
postpone to aftertime the last conflict to which they must 
ultimately come. The life of the Patriarch was not long 


enough for the development of his whole political system. 
Its final accomplishment is in the womb of time. 

The anticipation of this event is the more certain, from 
the consideration that all the principles for which Lafayette 
contended were practical. He never indulged himself in 
wild and fanciful speculations. The principle of hereditary 
power was, in his opinion, the bane of all republican liberty 
in Europe. Unable to extinguish it in the Revolution of 1830, 
so far as concerned the Chief Magistracy of the Nation, La- 
fayette had the satisfaction of seeing it abolished with refer- 
ence to the Peerage. An hereditary Crown, stript of the 
support which it may derive from an hereditary Peerage, how- 
ever compatible with Asiatic despotism, is an anomaly in the 
history of the Christian world, and in the theory of free 
Government. There is no argument producible against the 
existence of an hereditary Peerage, but applies with aggra- 
vated weight against the transmission, from sire to son, of an 
hereditary Crown. The prejudices and passions of the People 
of France rejected the principle of inherited power, in every 
station of public trust, excepting the first and highest of them 
all ; but there they clung to it, as did the Israelites of old to 
the savory deities of Egypt. 

This is not the time or the place for a disquisition upon 
the comparative merits, as a system of government, of a Re- 
public, and a Monarchy surrounded by republican institutions. 
Upon this subject there is among us no diversity of opinion ; 
and if it should take the People of France another half cen- 
tury of internal and external war, of dazzling and delusive 
glories ; of unparalleled triumphs, humiliating reverses, and 
biiter disappointments, to settle it to their satisfaction, the 


ultimate result can only bring them to the point where we 
have stood from the day of the Declaration of Independence — 
to the point where Lafayette would have brought them, and 
to which he looked as a consummation devoutly to be wished. 
Then, too, and then only, will be the time when the 
character of Lafayette will be appreciated at its true value 
throughout the civilized world. When the principle of 
hereditary dominion shall be extinguished in all the institu- 
tions of France; when Government shall no longer be 
considered as property transmissible from sire to son, but as 
a trust committed for a limited time, and then to return to 
the People whence it came ; as a burdensome duty to be 
discharged, and not as a reward to be abused; when a claim, 
any claim, to political power by inheritance shall, in the 
estimation of the whole French People, be held as it now is 
by the whole People of the North American Union — then 
will be the time for contemplating the character of Lafayette, 
not merely in the events of his life, but, in the full develop- 
ment of his intellectual conceptions, of his fervent aspirations, 
of the labors and perils and sacrifices of his long and eventful 
career upon earth ; and thenceforward, till the hour when the 
trump of the Archangel shall sound to announce that Time 
shall be no more, the name of Lafayette shall stand enrolled 
upon the annals of our race, high on the list of the pure and 
disinterested benefactors of mankind. 



In the House of Representatives, 

June 21, 1834, 

Mr. JOHNQUINCY ADAMS tnoved the rdlowing resokitioii, viz. 

Resolved, That a Committee be appointed, on tlie part of tiiis House, to join 
such Committee as may be appointed on the part of llie Senate, to consider 
and report by what token of respect and affection it may be proper for the 
Congress of the United States to express the deep sensibility of the Nation 
to the event of the decease of General Lafaiette. 

The resolution being read, the question was put, that the House 
do agree thereto, and passed in the affirmative unanimously. It was 

Ordered, That the Committee on the part of this House consist of 
one member from each State ; and 

were appointed the Committee on the part of the House. 

Ordered, That the Clerk request the concurrence of the Senate in 
the said resolution. 

A message from the Senate, by Mr. Lovvrie, their Secretary : 
3Ir. Speaker: The Senate have passed the resolution for the 
appointment of a Joint Committee " to consider and report by what 
token of respect and affection it may be proper for the Congress of 
the United States to express the deep sensibility of the Nation to the 
event of the decease of General Lafayette," and have appointed a 
Committee on their part. 

The Committee on the part of the Senate are, 


CALHOUN, KING, of Alabama, 





In the House of Representatives, 

June 24, 1834. 
Mr. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS, from the Joint Committee ap- 
pointed, on the 21st instant, " to consider and report by what token of 
respect and affection it may be proper for the Congress of the United 
States to express the deep sensibility of the Nation to the event of the 
decease of General Lafayette," reported the following joint resolu- 
tions, viz. 


Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States 
of America in Cmigress assembled^ That the two Houses of Congress have 
received, with the profoundest sensibihty, intelligence of the death of 
General Lafayette, the friend of the United States, the friend of Wash- 
ington, and the friend of Liberty. 

And be it further resolved, That the sacrifices and efforts of this illustrious 
person in the cause of our countr)-, during her struggle for Independence, 
and the affectionate interest which he has at all times manifested for the 
success of her political institutions, claim from the Government and People 
of the United States an expression of condolence for his loss, veneration 
for his virtues, and gratitude for his services. 

Jind be it further resolved, That the President of the United States be 
requested to address, together with a copy of the above resolutions, a 
letter to George Washington Lafayette, and the other members of his 
family, assuring them of the condolence of this whole Nation in their 
irreparable bereavement. 

And be it further resolved. That the members of the two Houses of Con- 
gress will wear a badge of mourning for thirty days ; and that it be 
recommended to the People of the United States to wear a similar badge 
for the same period. 

And be it further resolved. That the Halls of the Houses be dressed in 
mourning for the residue of the session. 

And be it further resolved. That John Quincy Adams be requested to 
deliver an Oration on the Life and Character of General Lafayette, 
before the two Houses of Congress, at the next session. 

The said resolutions were read three times successively, and 
passed unanimously. 

A message from the Senate, by Mr. Lowrie, their Secretary ; 

Mr. Speaker: The Senate have passed, uiianimousli/, the reso- 
lution manifesting the sensibility of the two Houses of Congress 
and of the Nation on the occasion of the decease of General 

In the House of Representatives, 

December 9, 1834. 
On motion of Mr. HUBBARD, 
Resolved, That a Committee be appointed on the part of this 
House, to join such Committee as may be appointed on the part 
of the Senate, to consider and report the arrangements necessary 


to be adopted in order to carry into effect the last resolution 
reported on the 24th June, 1834, by the Joint Committee ap- 
pointed at the last session of Congress, on the occasion of the 
death of General Lafayette. 

of Virginia, and Mr. MARSHALL, were appointed the said 

Ordered, That the Clerk acquaint the Senate therewith. 

The Senate concurred in the foregoing resolution, December 15, 
1834 ; and Mr. CLAY, Mr. WHITE, Mr. CALHOUN, Mr. 
WEBSTER, and Mr. BUCHANAN, were appointed the Com- 
mittee on their part. 

In the House of Representatives, 

December 23, 1834. 

Mr. HUBBARD, from the Select Joint Committee appointed to 
consider and report what measures were necessary to give effect 
to the resolutions adopted at the last session for paying suitable 
honors to the memory of General Lafayette, reported the following 
resolution : 

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, 1'hat Wednesday, the 
thirty-first instant, be the time assigned for the delivery of the Oration by 
John Quincy Adams, before the two Houses of Congress, on the Life and 
Character of General Laiatette. 

That the two Houses shall be called to order by their respective Presiding 
Officers at the usual hour, and the Journal of the preceding day shall be 
read ; but all Legislative business shall be suspended on that day. 

That the Oration shal, be delivered at half past twelve o'clock, in the 
Hall of the House of Representatives. 

That the President of the United States and the Heads of the several 
Departments, the French Minister and Members of the French Legation, 
all other Foreign Ministers at the Seat of Government, and the Members 
of their respective Legations, be invited to attend on that occasion by the 
Chairmen of the Joint Corrimittee. 

That the President of the United States, the Heads of the several Depart- 
ments, the French Minister and Members of the French Legation, the other 
Foreign Ministers at the Seat of Government, and the Members of their 
respective Legations, and Joair Qtiikcy Adams, be requested to assemble 


at half past twelve o'clock P. M. in the Senate Chamber, and that they, 
with the Senate, shall be attended by the Joint Committee to the Hall of 
the House of Representatives. 

That the Galleries of the House, under the direction of its Officers, shall 
be open on that day for the accommodation of such citizens as may think 
proper to attend. 

Which was agreed to by the House. 

Ordered^ That the Clerk acquaint the Senate therewith. 

The Senate concurred in the foregoing resolution. 

In the House of Representatives, 

December 31, 1834. 

In pursuance of the arrangements reported by the Joint Committee 
appointed, on the 9th December instant, to consider and report the 
arrangements necessary to be adopted to carry into effect the last 
resolution reported on the 24lh June, 1834, by the Joint Com- 
mittee appointed at the last session of Congress, on the occasion 
of the death of General Lafayette, the Hall was prepared for the 
reception of the Senate, and for the guests invited, in accordance 
with the said arrangements. 

At forty minutes past twelve o'clock, the Senate of the United 
States, preceded by the Vice President and its Officers, the Pre- 
sident of the United States, the Heads of the several Executive 
Departments, the Ministers of sundry Foreign Nations at the Seat 
of Government, and the Members of their respective Legations, 
and John Quincy Adams, entered the Hall of the House, and 
took the seats prepared for them, respectively. Mr. John Quincy 
Adams was conducted to the Speaker's Chair by the Committee 
of Arrangements, when the Speaker withdrew, and took a seat at 
the Clerk's table with the Vice President. 

Mr. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS then rose, and delivered an 
Oration on the Life and Character of General Lafayette ; and 
having, at half past three o'clock P. M., concluded the same, 

The Senate, the President of the United States, the Heads of 
Departments, and the Foreign Ministers and Legations, withdrew. 

When the Speaker resumed his seat. 


In the House of Representatives, 

January 2, 1835. 

The Ibllowing joint resolution was offered by Mr. HUBBARD: 

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives, That the thanks pi 
Congress be presented to Johx Quincy Adams, for the appropriate Oration 
dehvered by him on the Life and Character of General Lafayette, in the 
Representatives' Hall, before both Houses of Congress, on the 31st day of 
December, 1834, and that he be requested to furnish a copy for publication. 

Resolved, That the Chairmen of the Joint Committee appointed to make the 
necessary arrangements to carry into effect the resolution of the last session of 
this Congress in relation to the death of General Lafayette, be requested to 
communicate to Mr. Adams the aforegoing resolution, receive his answer 
thereto, and present the same to both Houses of Congress. 

The resolution was agreed to, nem. dls. 

Ordered, That the Clerk request the concurrence of the Senate 

The Senate concurred in the foregoing resolution. 

In the House of Representatives, 

January 6, 1835. 

Mr. HUBBARD, from the Select Joint Committee appointed, on 
the 2d instant, to deliver the thanks of Congress to John Quincy 
Adams, for his appropriate Oration on the Life and Character of 
Lafayette, reported the following correspondence, viz. 

To the Hon. John Quincy Adams: 

Sm : We have the honor to present to you official copies of two joint 
resolutions adopted by the Senate and House of Representatives on the 
2d instant, expressing the thanks of Congress for the appropriate Oration 
dehvered by you in the Hall of the House of Representatives on the 31st 
ultimo, on the Life and Character of General Lafayette ; and authorizing 
a request to be made to you for a copy of it for publication. 

Having shared the high gratification of hearing the Oration, we take 
pleasure, in pursuance of the second of tlie joint resolutions, in requesting 
you to furnish a copy of the Oration for publication. 
We have the honor to be, 

With great respect. 

Your obedient servants, 

Chairman of Commitite on part of Senaie. 

Chairman of Committee on part of House. 
Jakvart 5, 1835. 


To Messrs. Henry Clat and Henry Hubbahd, Chairmen of the Joint Com- 
mittee of Arrangements of the Senate and House of Representatives of 
the United States, to carry into effect the resolution of Congress in 
relation to the death of General Lafayette : 
Gentlemen : I receive with deep sensibility your communication of the 
joint resolution of both Houses of Congress upon the Oration delivered before 
them on the Life and Character of Lafayette. 

The kind indulgence with which they have accepted the endeavor to 
give effect to their purpose of paying' a last tribute of national gratitude 
and affection to the memory of a great benefactor of our country, will be 
impressed upon my heart to the last hour of my life. 

With this sentiment I shall take pleasure in furnishing, as requested, a 
copy of the Address for publication. 
I am, gentlemen. 

With the highest respect, 

Your fellow-citizen, and obedient servant, 


Mr. HUBBARD submitled the following preamble and resolution, 

Whereas it was resolved, at the last session of Congress, that John 
QuiNCY Adams be requested to deliver an Oration on the Life and Cha- 
racter of General Lafayette, before the two Houses of Congress ; and, 
in pursuance of tliat resolution, and sundry other resolutions which have 
been subsequently adopted, Mr. Adams, on Wednesday, the 31st day of 
December, 1834, in the Hall of the House of Representatives, and in the 
presence of both Houses of Congress, and also in the presence of the 
President of the United States, of the Heads of the respective Depart- 
ments of the National Government, and of a most numerous assembly of 
citizens, did deliver an Oration replete with those pure and patriotic 
sentiments which will be sacredly cherished by every true and enlightened 
American : The House of Representatives, fully satisfied with the manner 
in which Mr. Adams has performed the duty assigned him, and desirous 
of communicating, "through the medium of the press," those principles 
which have been by him so ably discussed, as well as their sentiments of 
respect for the distinguished character, and their sentiments of gratitude for 
the devoted services of Lafayette, which have been by him, on this 
occasion, so flilthfully expressed — have come to the following resolution : 

Resolved, That copies of the Oration be printed for the use of the 


The CHAIR remarked that it was necessary to fill the blank 


Mr. HUBBARD said the Committee left it to the House to fill 
the blank. 

Mr. PEARCE, of Rhode Island, moved to fill the blank with 
ten thousand. 

Mr. PINCKNEY moved twenty thousand. 
Mr. BROWN moved fifty thousand. 
Mr. MILLER moved forty thousand. 

The question being taken on the highest number named, (fifty 
tliousand,) it was decided in the affirmative by a vote of eighty to 

Mr. EVANS moved that the resolution be amended by inserting 
at the end of it, "under the direction of the Committee on the part 
of the House." 

Which motion was agreed to. 

In the Senate, January 7, 1835. 

Mr. CLAY reported the foregoing correspondence, which was 
read ; and. 

On motion of Mr. CLAY, 

Ordered, That ten thousand copies be printed for the use of the 

W^ • 't^